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Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

June 15, 2016

Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is not a myth. It is a very real condition that affects caregivers of all ages and it can have serious consequences.
According to WebMD, caregiver burnout is “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.”
So, what does that mean exactly?
Recognizing Signs of Caregiver Burnout
The parent-child relationship can be complicated at certain times in life and it is further complicated when you, as an adult child, are taking care of an aging or ill parent. This new dynamic can be difficult and stressful and add a lot of pressure to your already busy life.
While some of the stress might ease with time, it can become serious if it lasts for an extended period. The result is caregiver burnout.
Signs of caregiver overload include: 
  • Feeling sad, irritable, hopeless or helpless
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Loss of interest in your favorite activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive use of alcohol or prescription pills, including sleep medication
  • Lowered immune system
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion 
Additional signs can include harmful thoughts about yourself or the person you care for, which can be especially troubling. It is recommended to speak with a physician about these thoughts, or if you need more immediate help you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Managing Caregiver Burnout
If you recognize any of the symptoms of caregiver burnout, there are ways to help you manage your stress levels and get your life back on a healthier track.
  1. Talk it out. Whether you talk to a spouse, a friend, a religious leader or a professional therapist, the important part is unburdening yourself of feelings of resentment or anger. Being able to talk through these negative feelings can actually have a positive effect--making you feel lighter and less frustrated. 
  2. Reprioritize and change boundaries. If you’ve come to the conclusion that the current situation is not working for you, it’s time to make a change. Create a new schedule that is a little more of a compromise and takes your schedule into account. If the person you are caring for has major objections, it might be time to create some more boundaries and let go of guilt. Remind yourself that there is only so much one person can do! 
  3. Consider Respite Care. If you haven’t taken a vacation in a while because you don’t feel comfortable leaving your loved one alone for an extended period of time, look into Respite Care. Five Star Senior Living offers Respite Care services with many amenities, including community activities, excellent dining experiences and scheduled transportation, so your loved one will be in good hands. 
  4. Commit to more “me-time”. Setting aside time each day to read a book, go to the gym, drink a glass of wine with a friend, meditate alone or do some other activity for yourself will have a big impact on your overall well-being. It will help you reconnect to yourself and feel more centered before going out into the world.
The important thing for caregivers to remember is that they are not alone.
There are many different options out there to help you just have to know when it is time to ask for it. If you feel as though you are struggling to keep up, consider calling the Five Star Senior Living community near you to start the conversation today.