Support and Resources to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
You can prevent caregiver burnout by getting help.
Contact the ADRC for caregiver resources
and support groups that are available to you. Please also see this list of resources.
You can also find more support through your county's Caregiver Coalition.
A Caregiver Coalition is a group of community-based organizations, health care providers, experienced caregivers and others working with a common mission to provide family caregivers in our community with a link to vital services and support.
What is a Caregiver?
Many who are helping others don't often think of themselves as "caregivers." But when one or more of the following types of situations arise, it's time to start considering yourself as a caregiver:
- A health problem is cramping your mother's lifestyle
- You are helping out with a parent's financial issues
- Home maintenance is slipping - the grass is overgrown, things are broken, but not repaired
- The refrigerator is poorly stocked and food is going bad
- Your grandfather has died and your grandmother is alone for the first time in 40 years
- Dad seems distracted on the phone and you are concerned about his memory
You are not alone! There are a wealth of caregiving resources, support groups and other information for all different kinds of caregivers.
What Are the Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout?
The symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to the symptoms of stress and depression. They include:
- Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless and helpless
- Changes in appetite, weight, or both
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Getting sick more often
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
What Causes Caregiver Burnout?
Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical, and spiritual health. The demands on a caregiver's body, mind, and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness - and, ultimately, burnout.
Other factors that can lead to caregiver burnout include:
Role confusion - Many people are confused when thrust into the role of caregiver. It can be difficult for a person to separate her role as caregiver from her role as spouse, lover, child, friend, etc.
Unrealistic expectations - Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the patient. This may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
Lack of control - Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one's care.
Unreasonable demands - Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens upon themselves, in part because they see providing care as their exclusive responsibility.
Other factors - Many caregivers cannot recognize when they are suffering caregiver burnout and eventually get to the point where they cannot function effectively. They may even become sick themselves.