If you are not mindful of your own care, you may not be providing the best possible care to your loved one.
If you've ever acted as a caregiver for someone else, you probably have an intimate understanding of how much the process taxes your personal wellness reserves. Often, caregivers are so focused on the needs of their loved ones that they neglect their own well-being. This typically leads to the experience of “caregiver burnout,” a term that refers to the state of exhaustion resulting from the prolonged stress that caregivers experience when providing care to others. It can have serious consequences on the caregiver’s physical and mental health, and ultimately make it difficult for them to provide quality care to their loved one.
You are not alone
The AARP published data that reveals that the percent of Americans providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs has steadily increased between 2015-2020, and is now around 20%. In that same time period, the percent of Americans providing care to more than one person has increased from 18% to 24% and the percent of Americans providing care to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia has increased from 22% to 26%.
Recognize the symptoms
Caregiver burnout will look and feel different for everyone. However, the symptoms listed here are the most common and may provide a useful starting point to recognize when you need to make changes in your routines.
Reduced energy; feeling tired or depleted
Issues with sleep
Losing interest in activities I once enjoyed
Changes in appetite or weight
Feelings of irritability, resentment, or hopelessness
Inability to relax
Falling ill more frequently
Chronic headaches, stomachaches, or other ailments
Increased use of alcohol, weed, illicit drugs, or other substances
Remember, if left unchecked, caregiver burnout can easily spread to and negatively impact other areas of your life. Compromising your physical, emotional, and mental health will negatively impact your own well-being and quality of life, and will ultimately make you less able to be the caregiver that you wish to be.
If you are recognizing any of these symptoms in yourself, build a wellness plan with the tips offered HERE.
Some additional sources of support for caregivers:
Connect with a community of people who take care of aging friends and loved ones.
Help and support for those who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age.