The demands of caregiving can be exhausting and overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to rein in stress and regain a sense of balance, joy, and hope in your life.
What is caregiver burnout?
While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening if you feel that you’re in over your head, if there’s no hope that your family member will get better, or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.
If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. And when you get to that point, both you and the person you’re caring for suffer.
That’s why taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Cultivating your own emotional and physical well-being is just as important as making sure your family member gets to their doctor’s appointment or takes their medication on time.
Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout
Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is important, so you can take immediate action to prevent things from becoming worse and start improving the situation for both you and the person you’re caring for.
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout
|Local vs. Online Support Groups for Caregivers|
|Local support groups:||Online support groups:|
|People live near each other and meet in a given place each week or month.||People are from all over the world and have similar problems.|
|Meetings provide you with face-to-face contact and a chance to make new friends who live near you.||You meet online, through email lists, websites, message boards, or social media.|
|The meetings get you out of the house, get you moving, provide a social outlet, and reduce feelings of isolation.||You can get support without leaving your house, which is good for people with limited mobility or transportation problems.|
|Meetings are at a set time. You will need to attend them regularly to get the full benefit of the group.||You can access the group whenever it’s convenient for you or when you most need help.|
|Since the people in the support group are from your area, they’ll be more familiar with local resources and issues.||If your problem is very unusual, a rare disease, for example, there may not be enough people for a local group, but there will always be enough people online.|
To find a community support group, check the yellow pages, ask your doctor or hospital, or call a local organization that deals with your loved one’s health problem. To find an online support group, visit the websites of organizations dedicated to your loved one’s health problem.