For those who are caregivers to an older family member or close friend, providing medical support and helping with basic daily functions is often a genuine privilege, as well as a physical and emotional challenge, says Health Hive’s recent article entitled “Preventing Caregiver Burnout.”
When these caregivers are asked to describe their own health, a recent report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) showed just one in 10 described their health as excellent. These challenges can often lead to feelings of burnout. According to the report, 36% of family caregivers characterize their situation as highly stressful.
When someone transitions from family member to caregiver, it’s hard to have a therapeutic relationship. It can be exhaustive – emotionally and mentally – and also affects their physical health. Whether caregivers recognize it themselves or a loved one starts to notice, these can be some early signals of burnout:
- A short temper or frustration about the way in which care is handled
- Illness from lack of self-care
- Social withdrawal
- Symptoms of depression; and/or
- Lack of sleep.
Knowing what to watch for can be a major part of identifying any potential problems before they start to have a significant effect on caregivers. Begin with small ways of coping with caregiver stress, such as these:
- Take breaks, even if it’s an hour or two a few times a week, caregivers often need some time away.
- Regular movement and exercise help to improve mood and health.
- Create a plan with another family member or a social worker, so there’s someone else ready in case they are sick or have an emergency.
- Other caregivers are often in similar situations and meet to talk, either in-person or virtually, about their experiences.
Reference: Health Hive (Oct. 27, 2022) “Preventing Caregiver Burnout”
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