Caregiving for a senior family member or a loved one with a chronic or life-limiting illness can be fulfilling. It gives people a chance to bond and reminisce. However meaningful the time might be, it can also be exhausting. A caregiver can find themselves struggling emotionally and physically.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, almost 39.8 million people in this country are caregiving for a friend or family member. That translates to nearly 16% of the adult population. Unfortunately, family caregivers often end up experiencing a health crisis of their own. Many times, it is because they don’t know the warning signs of caregiver burnout. Before they realize something is wrong, their own health is suffering.
10 Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Because the signs of caregiver burnout can be subtle and may come on gradually, they’re easy to overlook. Learning the most common symptoms may help you prevent a crisis. Remember these 10 warning signs:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling deep fatigue that doesn’t lessen with sleep
- Having ongoing problems with digestion
- Unintentionally losing or gaining weight
- Quickly becoming angry or tearful
- Experiencing backaches and headaches
- Being overly anxious and unable to cope
- Developing unhealthy habits, like smoking or drinking
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
- Losing interest in favorite activities and organizations
If these symptoms describe you, it might be time to take a break and see your primary care physician. They can help you get back on a healthier track.
How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
If you recognize you are in danger of getting burned out, it’s vital to take steps to prevent it right away. Here are a few of the best ways to avoid caregiver burnout:
- Manage stress: Caregivers deal with a great amount of stress every day. Learning how to manage it is essential. Chronic stress is linked to depression, high blood pressure, stroke, and more. A few stress-busting methods to explore include meditation, walking, yoga, and journaling. Even devoting 10 or 15 minutes to stress-relieving activities can help.
- Stay active: When you are busy caring for a loved one, you may feel more active than you are. But business doesn’t always translate to physical activity. If you can’t find time to exercise for 30 continuous minutes (and many caregivers can’t) break it down into shorter blocks. Two 15-minute exercise sessions can be just as beneficial.
- Eat healthy: Eating a well-balanced diet usually takes more work than relying on convenience foods or fast food. For busy caregivers, finding time to prepare healthy meals often feels impossible. Utilizing home-delivered meal services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, or Freshly might help. Another option is home delivery services from local grocery stores. These services will save you time and ensure that fresh, healthy foods make it to your home regularly.
- Get rest: Insomnia is a struggle many caregivers share. Some have difficulty getting to sleep, while others can’t stay asleep. If you haven’t had success with common remedies, such as keeping the bedroom cool and the television off, you might need to speak with your doctor. They may refer you to a sleep clinic for follow-up.
- Consider assisted living: Finally, it might be time to consider an assisted living community for your senior loved one. It will likely improve the quality of life for you and your family member. They can take advantage of the plethora of life enrichment activities and opportunities to socialize while you reengage with your friends and favorite pastimes.
Take a Tour of a Five Star Community Today
With nearly 260 communities across 33 states, you’ll likely find a Five Star Senior Living near you. We invite you to call us to arrange a personal tour at your earliest convenience. Or if you prefer, we can take you on a virtual tour to see all our communities have to offer. Call (853) 457-8271 to learn more!