Dangers of Caregiver Burnout
The life of a family caregiver is a busy one. No matter if you are a caregiver that lives with your loved one, lives close by, or are thousands of miles away, you are always finding a way to juggle your personal and professional obligations with your ever-changing caregiving duties. Here at iNavigate, we salute every family caregiver and know how challenging and rewarding it can be.
However, it’s important to note that if you are a family caregiver, you are at an increased risk of health complications due to your caregiving role. Knowing more about caregiver burnout, including signs that you are headed for it, can keep you healthy for longer.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is sometimes called caregiver fatigue, and is a term used to describe a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that can come with caregiving. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that caregivers are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, stress, heart disease, and even increased mortality rates. People living in caregiver burnout are also at an increased risk to abuse their senior loved ones or to cope with their emotions by drinking too much or using other unhealthy behaviors.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout can include:
Sleep disruptions, whether sleeping too much or not enough
Having a “short fuse” and feeling like you are on the verge of snapping emotionally
Withdrawing from family or friends
Getting sick more than usual, and staying sick longer than usual
Caregivers who end up sick or burnt out can often not provide care to their loved ones. This means that sick caregivers can often lead to neglected or unhealthy seniors simply because the senior is not getting the support they need.
Who Is at Risk?
Any family caregiver is at risk of caregiver burnout. Professional caregivers are also susceptible to burnout, though that susceptibility increases if they are also caring for someone else when not at work. Family caregivers who provide hands-on assistance to their loved ones are also at a higher risk of burnout, but family caregivers who coordinate care from far away can also experience serious caregiver burnout symptoms as well
How Can I Avoid Caregiver Burnout?
The good news about caregiver burnout is that it can be prevented. Caregivers can take steps to minimize their risk of illness, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms that come with burnout. The best thing a family caregiver can do to avoid burnout? Intentional rest.
Getting a break from the caregiver role is perhaps the most important way to stay healthy as a family caregiver. Here are a few ways you can implement intentional rest into your already busy schedule:
Ask for help from family members, neighbors, or friends. Be specific with your requests. For example, you might ask your brother if he can be in charge of ordering your mom’s medication refills every month or your sister to start dropping off meals to your dad every Tuesday.
Schedule rest in your personal calendar. Aim for a few hours each week when you are in charge of nothing or no one. This might mean you go to an art workshop, read a book, or nap. Remember, grocery shopping or errands might be something you do alone, but they are not technically rest. Give your body and mind what it needs.
Find a counselor. Squeezing in a weekly or monthly appointment with a counselor or therapist can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
Tell your physician about your caregiving role. Even if you are feeling great, your doctor should know about your caregiving role so that they can pay attention to any changes in your physical or mental health.
Benefits of Senior Living
Many family caregivers become too busy, or too unhealthy, to maintain their caregiving role for the long term. Fortunately, senior living communities can be excellent solutions to senior health and family caregiver wellness. The right senior living community provides support for older adults while giving family caregivers the gift of rest, allowing them to set down their caregiver hat and return to being a son or daughter.
At iNavigate, we see the right senior living placement as a win for the senior and for their family members. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation so we can get to know you and your loved one better.
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