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Caregiver Burnout

by Katie Riggs on August 4, 2014

Caregiver burnout is a very real phenomenon. It can affect a spouse, son, daughter, or any other family member caring for an aging loved one. Oftentimes, a caregiver may start to experience physical, emotional and mental exhaustion when the responsibilities of caring for a loved one become too great.

Caregiver burnout symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Changes in weight
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, or depression
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Irritability

Caregivers are often so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own health.1 During these times, it is important to take a step back and assess your own physical and mental health so that you can continue to be a good caregiver for the ones you love.

Some important steps you can take to prevent caregiver burnout include:

  • Putting your own physical health first. This can include moderate exercise such as a brisk walk, yoga, stretching or a trip to the local gym. Also be sure to eat a well balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and lean proteins; be sure to get plenty of sleep to help ward off additional stress.
  • Talk with a friend, spouse or professional therapist about your feelings and stress.
  • Be realistic about your time and ability to be a good caregiver while also maintaining personal relationships, career, and your own personal obligations.
  • Be sure to educate yourself about your loved ones illness so that you can be prepared and be an effective caregiver.
  • Know your limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Additional respite care may be available through your local church or synagogue, neighborhood community groups, senior centers or even a personal services agency that can provide additional caregiver support for a few hours at a time.

1 WebMD