Maybe your elderly parent or parent-in-law has just moved in with you. Maybe you've been caring for an aging relative in your home for years. When you're not sure yet what to expect, or not sure whether what you're experiencing is typical, it's helpful to be on the lookout for signs of caregiver burnout. Burnout can occur in a caregiver regardless of the number or degree of responsibilities you have while caring for a senior in your home. Learn these signs to ensure you're caring for yourself and able to continue providing healthy care for your loved one as well.
What Are the Signs? Changes in your physical or emotional state, or changes in your quality of life can be indications that you're experiencing exhaustion, anxiety, stress, or depression as a caregiver.
Changes in your physical state
- Your weight range or patterns have changed
- Your sleep patterns or abilities have changed
- You find yourself sick or injured more often than before you began caregiving
Changes in your emotional state
- You feel anxious, sad, or lonely
- You're growing irritable or impatient with the person in your care
- You recognize that you're unreasonably annoyed over the "little things"
Changes in your quality of life
- You don't have enough time to take care of your own needs even while meeting everybody else's. You re-wear laundry instead of washing it, you eat convenient foods that don't make you feel satisfied or energized, or you don't prioritize getting enough sleep
- You lack a social life even if you'd be interested in having one
- You're turning to drugs (prescription or otherwise), alcohol, or tobacco for relief
In general, you may experience caregiver burnout if you're unable to maintain a normal, albeit altered, life. Your paid work may suffer, or you may have to quit your job or reduce hours when you would enjoy full-time work. You may also not spend time with your partner or other family members to the point of detriment for those relationships.
What Can I Do? One of the most important actions you can take as a caregiver is to care for yourself. You are a person who deserves a high quality of life and personal dignity, just as your loved one does. A caregiver who is well, rested, and in good spirits can also be better able to provide adequate care for others. When necessary, seek help with your responsibilities.
What Help is Available? If you and your dependent are still capable of doing well under your current arrangements, but you're feeling burned out, consider hiring an in-home care service, such as ComForcare Home Care - Woburn, MA. This service will provide you with the rest you need, particularly if you're able to get out of the house without fanfare or enjoy regularly scheduled breaks. If you can't afford a home nurse to stop by a few times a week (or more), you may even benefit from hiring a regular cleaning service. You'll have your current responsibilities as a caregiver, but if you don't have to worry about washing and folding laundry, doing dishes, or lawn care, you might be able to find an extra few hours a week to take care of yourself.