Caregiver burnout is when a caregiver feels emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. Not to be confused with being tired, which can usually be resolved with rest, caregiver burnout is typically the result of long-term stress and self-neglect.
When all your energy and time are focused on someone else’s well-being, there’s a good chance your needs are neglected, which can lead to emotional fatigue and burnout. This dilemma often happens to caregivers, especially those who care for a sick family member or loved one.
Below, we’ll discuss burnout and what you can do to prevent it.
Common Signs of Caregiver Burnout
The signs of caregiver burnout can look different for each person. Some may experience short bouts of burnout while for others, it may last longer, with more difficult symptoms.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of caregiver burnout:
What Is the Caregiver Burden?
Caregiver burden describes the physical, emotional, financial, and psychological challenges a caregiver faces. It is the load that an informal caregiver may carry as they are taking care of their loved one or relative.
Although the challenges of caregiving may also be present in professional caregivers, it is most applicable to informal caregivers, or family caregivers because they generally don’t have caregiving training, are rarely compensated for their labor, and may not have the proper resources for support.
Examples of Caregiver Burden
Some examples of caregiver burden are:
Caregiver Burden Statistics
According to Caregiver.org, about 40% of caregivers experience high-burden roles, 18% have medium burden, and 41% experience low burden. Hispanic and African-American caregivers typically experience higher burdens than their White and Asian-American counterparts. Female caregivers also carry more burdens than male caregivers.
What Is Caregiver Fatigue Syndrome?
Over time, when a caregiver is experiencing too much stress, caregiver fatigue can happen. This is a state of physical, mental, and psychological exhaustion when the individual has reached their limit. It is important to identify caregiver fatigue syndrome symptoms early in order to put plans in place to give the caregiver a reprieve.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout
To prevent reaching the point of caregiver burnout or caregiver fatigue, it is crucial that caregivers must not neglect their own needs. There are simple ways you can do to ensure that your mind and body are receiving the proper care while you are caring for others.
What is a Caregiver Support Group?
A caregiver support group is a safe place for caregivers to discuss their problems and ask for help. The main purpose of support groups is to provide advice and resources to help caregivers manage their stress and improve their coping skills. For example, there are caregiver support groups specifically for people who are caring for a loved one with dementia.
How Do I Find a Caregiver Support Group Near Me?
With a quick Google search, you can easily find caregiver support groups in your area. There are in-person groups that can offer valuable help and resources for caregivers. There are also many online communities where you can get advice and support for free. If you are a Facebook user, search for Facebook groups in your local area or even support groups for specific illnesses.
Online Resources for Family Caregivers
You can find resources for family caregivers on these sites:
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Caregiver Action Network
- National Family Caregiver Support Program
- Eldercare Locator
- Next Step In Care
How Can I Support Caregivers Experiencing Burnout?
If you want to show your appreciation and support for a family caregiver you know, there are several things you can do.
Caregiver burnout is a serious concern for all types of caregivers. Burnout happens when a caregiver is emotionally, mentally, or physically drained from caring for another person.
- Common signs of caregiver burnout are mood swings, lethargy, and withdrawal.
- Caregiver burden describes the physical, emotional, social, and financial weight a caregiver carries and how much it affects them personally.
- In order to prevent caregiver burnout, it’s important to ask for help, share your frustrations, prioritize self-care, get plenty of rest, and seek out a caregiver support group.
- Caregiver support groups are available in-person and online, find one that fits your schedule. Many disease-specific support groups are available online.
- Support caregivers around you by letting them know you are available to help with tasks, listen to frustrations, and assist financially if you can.
Caregiver Burnout Frequently Asked Questions
Educating yourself about caregiver burden will greatly help in understanding the impact it has on the life of a caregiver. This helps you better cope with the challenges of the caregiving role, allows for preparation, and burnout prevention.
Because of the tough demands of the job, it can be difficult for both the physical and mental health of the caregiver. It is important to take regular breaks, ask for help, and seek out support to avoid burnout and fatigue.
“You look really tired”, “You shouldn’t be sacrificing so much,” and “Why don’t you get out more?” are a few statements you should never say to a caregiver. Instead, offer help, a listening ear, and even financial assistance if it seems appropriate.
Irritability, increased anxiety, isolation, depression, and feelings of resentment are just some of the symptoms of caregiver stress. Stress can also manifest physically, with symptoms like headaches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, joint pain, constipation, and more.
Amie Clark, BSW
Aging Advocate and Senior Care Expert
Amie has worked with older adults and their families for the past twenty-plus years of her career. Her senior care knowledge is based on her experience as a social worker, family caregiver, and senior care consultant. Learn more about Amie here.