Most of us have used the term “burned out” to describe our feelings during especially hectic times in life. When you are a caregiver, however, burnout can be a daily battle that leads to a serious health crisis. Understanding caregiver overload, and being aware of the signs, is important.
Caregiver Overload and Your Health
Caregivers live with high levels of stress every day. Many family caregivers struggle to balance caregiving with a full- or part-time job and their own family.
This juggling act can leave the family caregiver feeling weary and worn out. Caregiving also puts people at higher risk for health problems ranging from chronic back and joint pain to obesity, high blood pressure, and migraines.
How can you tell if you are suffering from caregiver burnout?
1. Chronic fatigue that doesn’t improve with sleep
4. Feeling overwhelmed by even small tasks
5. Frequent headaches, joint or muscle pain
6. Sleep problems including needing to sleep too much or insomnia
7. Withdrawing from social activities and loved ones
8. Newly acquired bad habits such as drinking or smoking
9. Not taking good care of your own health
Getting Help for the Weary Caregiver
If the symptoms listed above sound all too familiar, you likely need to accept that it is time for a break to focus on you.
Begin by scheduling an appointment with your own family physician. It’s important to enlist their support as you try to get your mental and physical health back on track
Next, ask friends and loved ones to pitch in to help lighten your load. Most communities also have respite resources. Call to see if your senior loved one’s church has a friendly visitor program or if the agency on aging can provide you with a list of respite providers. Some even charge on a sliding scale based on income.
Another avenue of support is to join an online caregiver support group. Talking in chat rooms or on message boards with fellow caregivers can help you manage the emotional side of caregiving. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a good source for finding an online support group you will feel comfortable with.
Finally, consider exploring senior housing options near you. Communities like Randall Residence help older adults continue to live healthier, more engaged lives than peers who live at home alone.