Preventing and Managing Caregiver Burnout

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Did you know that there are over 40 million caregivers in the US who support their aging parents, ill spouses or other loved ones who require extra care?

While most respondents in an AARP study of caregivers earlier this year said that they have a friend or relative available to confide in and contact socially, nearly 1 in 5 said they had no one to call for help. More than 60 percent of the caregivers surveyed were working a paid job in addition to providing care for a loved one at home.

Managing everything from doctor visits to daily medication while balancing the demands of a part- or full-time job can really take a toll on the caregiver.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is the result of too much long-term stress. Caregivers often feel overwhelmed and unable to meet all the demands on their time. Long-term stress can begin to affect the caregiver’s physical health. This is especially true for caregivers who manage all or nearly all of the care for an individual by themselves.

According to the American Heart Association, signs of caregiver burnout include:

  • Appetite changes (eating too much or not enough)
  • Excessive use of alcohol, medications, or sleeping pills
  • Losing control physically or emotionally
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Depression, hopelessness, feelings of alienation, lack of energy
  • Neglect or rough treatment of the person being care for
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Missing appointments

If you recognize the warning signs of caregiver burnout in yourself, it’s important to take action. If you have symptoms of depression for two weeks or more, talk to your doctor.

Managing Caregiver Burnout

The last thing you want to do is snap at your loved one on the way to yet another appointment. If you’re consistently feeling out of sorts as a caregiver, start taking steps to get some balance back in your life.

Can someone sit with your loved one while you go to your favorite workout class? Would a trusted family member or friend be able to take your loved to an upcoming doctor appointment?

Finding ways to make time for activities that you enjoy will help you manage stress and avoid burnout by taking care of yourself. After all, you can’t take good care of someone else if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Make healthy food choices and find ways to build physical activity into your day. Avoid over-consuming alcohol or relying on medication to manage sleep.

Look for opportunities to connect with others who are providing care for a loved one. You may find a group of individuals with similar circumstances through the hospital, a church, or even online. Finding a sense of community can be very helpful, especially when you are adjusting to a “new normal” such as caring for someone who has impaired motor skills.

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Schuerman Law office today. Schuerman Law has been working with personal injury claims for over 40 years. John Schuerman will compassionately advocate for injured individuals as well as their families while fighting for full compensation of their claims. Schuerman Law offers evening and weekend appointments in addition to home and hospital visits. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-274-0045.