How to identify Caregiver Stress and Burnout
The warning signs of compassion fatigue, the risks of long-term caregiver burnout, and tips to better balance and manage your caregiving lifestyle.
One-third (33%) of senior caregivers reported that their caregiving responsibilities were stressful or very stressful. Stress-related to caregiving varied significantly depending on the number of hours spent on caregiving, and no group feels it more than family caregivers.
This type of stress is known as Caregiver Burnout or Compassion Fatigue and can be especially troubling to those providing in-home care daily.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress
Do you have days where you feel “off” or “not yourself”? Don’t worry! This is a normal occurrence and often points to physical or mental exhaustion but can also indicate potential burnout down the road.
The stress you are experiencing can take many different forms, and it is to know the signs early so you can tackle them effectively and not worry you may make mistakes when providing care.
Here are some more warning signs:
- Feeling exhausted for long periods
- Loss of interest in activities
- Short temper or mood swings
- Feeling worried or sad often
- Headaches or body aches
It is important to reach out for help or a break if you are feeling any of the above.
Ignoring Caregiver Burnout
If you do not treat your stress and exhaustion, symptoms may often turn into worse problems. This stress often leads to adverse effects on your physical and mental health too.
Here are some common ways stress affects caregivers:
- Caregivers are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression raise your risk for other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
- Stressed caregivers end up with weaker immune systems and spend more days sick with the cold or flu. A weak immune system can also make vaccines less effective and even shorten the recovery time on surgeries.
- Undue stress may cause weight gain and raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease are at higher risk for problems with short-term memory and focus.
Taking control of your physical and mental health can be a great way to improve your wellbeing for years to come.
Tips to Prevent and Avoid Compassion Fatigue
While not all forms of stress are bad, the high amount of pressure and corresponding exhaustion placed upon a person experiencing caregiver burnout can cause personal harm down the road.
Here are some great ways to tackle your caregiver stress:
Ask for help - asking for assistance does not make you a bad caregiver. Whether it is with small tasks or a schedule, your friends, family, and employer want to see you at your best!
Take breaks - spend time with friends and family, or take on some relaxing activities like reading, a massage, or a long bath.
Seek out care - if you are struggling, please reach out to those who you trust to help you.
Be intentional with your time - relax or take quiet time alone. Do whatever you need to better connect with yourself.
Make a To-Do List - there are a lot of things to do each day and staring at the whole list can seem overwhelming. Break your day into small chunks or tasks and take some time to reaffirm yourself and celebrate the small victories.
Find Compassionate Caregivers
Promyse Home Care is available for in-home care in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, providing nurse-managed and home care services in the comfort of your home. Designed to meet your individual preferences and personal needs, our care plans are customized for you and delivered by compassionate, friendly, professional caregivers.