Caregiver burden is the physical, mental, psychological, financial, and social strain on an individual who is providing care for someone. These stressors can lead to caregiver burnout if not addressed. Caregiver burnout is the complete exhaustion both mentally and physically of a caregiver after the person has expended all their energy to care for someone.
When a senior needs help with self care tasks such as bathing and dressing as well as housework, a relative might step in and provide assistance. Sometimes, the family caregiver expects too much of themselves and attempts to care for all of the relatives needs. The caregiver may try to do too much on their own and end up suffering from this exhaustion.
A caregiver might have expected the aging relative to benefit greatly from their care. The caregiver may be disappointed that their increased involvement did not improve the health of the senior. Caregivers may have additional strain of not having enough money or resources to provide the care that they wish to provide.
Some family caregivers have the burden of watching their loved one’s health get progressively worse. Therefore, the caregiver job can carry emotional turmoil as well as the physical drain of providing care. To make matters worse, the caregiver job is often a thankless one. A caregiver may feel unappreciated and may get criticized much more frequently than the caregiver is praised.
Feeling stressed at times is normal when working as a caregiver for a family member or client. If the occasional feelings of caregiver stress become overwhelming and more frequent, the caregiver may want to take steps to avoid the situation from becoming worse and leading to burnout.
The caregiver suffering from burnout may begin feeling tired more often and develop a change in attitude towards their caregiver duties. Burnout in caregivers may cause changes in sleep and eating habits. The person may become irritable and even have feelings of depression, hopelessness, or helplessness.
A caregiver who is experiencing burnout might get sick more often than usual. They might start avoiding friends and family. The caregiver might develop feelings of wanting to hurt themselves or the person for whom they are providing care.
Often, a caregiver will not recognize these as symptoms of burnout. Instead of accepting these symptoms as a sign to get help, the caregiver may feel guilty for not being able to do it all.
To help prevent burnout, the caregiver should get help with their caregiver duties. An adult day program can give the family caregiver time during the day to pursue their own interests, rest, and be socially active. Hiring a caregiver may be an option for providing care for part of the day or night.
If the caregiver has developed burnout and cannot carry on with the caregiver job at the present time, the family may want to consider hiring caregivers with the help of a caregiver agency to give the family caregiver time to recover from the burnout. The family may also want to consider placing the elderly relative in a nursing home or assisted living temporarily.