Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, your days are likely full with little time to spare. Family caregivers often work outside the home and have children and grandchildren of their own. The term sandwich generation was coined to describe adults in this situation. They are sandwiched between their desire to spend time with and provide assistance for several generations of their family.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, nearly 40 million adults have taken on the role of family caregiver, accounting for over 16% of the adult population. While rewarding, it can also be demanding. Caregivers are more likely to suffer a health crisis than their noncaregiving peers. Sometimes, because they are so busy, caregivers fail to recognize and act on the warning signs of their own burnout.

Red Flags for Family Caregivers

Because the symptoms of caregiver burnout typically come on gradually, it’s easy to overlook them. Only when a medical problem occurs do caregivers realize just how badly they’ve been feeling. If you are a family caregiver, take time to review the red flags that may indicate a crisis is looming:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Persistent stomachaches or digestive problems 
  • Quick to become angry or tearful
  • Fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest
  • Overwhelming sense of anxiety
  • Unintended weight gain or weight loss
  • New back problems or headaches
  • Increase in unhealthy habits (i.e., smoking or drinking)
  • Loss of interest in friends and social activities

If these symptoms sound all too familiar, it’s likely time to make some changes. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. They can evaluate your well-being and identify any potential problems to avoid a crisis.

If you know you are on overload and want to prevent reaching the point of caregiver burnout, these tips can help.

Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

  • Accept help: If you are like many family caregivers, even the idea of asking for or accepting help leaves you feeling guilty. But it’s important to remind yourself that taking breaks is important. Allowing friends and family to help with errands and other daily tasks will make you a better caregiver in the long run. 
  • Learn to meditate: Research confirms that a healthy way to manage stress and anxiety is through meditation. Even 10 minutes in the morning can help you maintain better health. Whether you are just learning or have already mastered meditation, Calm and 10% Happier are good mediation apps for busy caregivers.
  • Improve your diet: Caregivers are notorious for skipping meals or grabbing something on the run. Neither habit is good for your health. While delivery services, such as DoorDash or UberEats, can make mealtime easier, the costs can add up quickly. It might be worth trying a meal delivery service. They are usually easier on the budget and your waistline. Visit The 23 Best Meal Delivery Services to Try in 2021 to learn more.
  • Get daily exercise: When you are pressed for time and feeling tired, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. Though it seems counterintuitive, exercise can give you more energy while also helping you beat stress and sleep better. If it’s hard to find 30 or 40 minutes at one time to exercise, most caregivers are happy to learn you can break that time into shorter workouts and reap the same rewards. A 15-minute walk in the morning combined with a 15-minute swim or Pilates in the afternoon, for example, can improve your overall wellness.
  • Investigate assisted living: Another option for busy caregivers to consider is respite care at an assisted living community. Most communities welcome short-term guests for a few days or weeks and even a month or more, depending on their state regulations. Respite can also act as a trial stay to see if the community might be a good fit for the older adult if a permanent move becomes necessary.

Work With a Board-Certified Nurse Practitioner

The search for an assisted living community can be time intensive which is often difficult for a busy caregiver. If you need a helping hand from an experienced care advisor, we hope you will consider the team at A Rae of Hope Advocacy Center. We work with older adults and their families every day. Our guidance is always free for seniors and their families! Contact us today to learn more about senior living and get suggestions on which communities to consider. We can aid in making a decision that you and your senior family member feel confident about.

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