What is Caregiver Burnout Syndrome?

iStock-672597012.jpg

Caregiver burnout syndrome or caregiver stress can affect family members, friends and medical professionals who provide care to an individual on either a short-term or long-term basis. Caregiver burnout can manifest certain symptoms that may affect daily functioning and quality of life. This may occur during the occurrence of a short-term illness, for example following a surgery, or during a long-term chronic illness, such as dementia. In both cases, caregivers or professionals may experience physical and emotional hardships. This article will focus on the family caretaker but professional caregivers can have similar symptoms.  Most caregivers don’t recognize that they may experience caregiver burnout since the initial assumption is that they are able to continue their usual responsibilities while assuming new caretaking tasks. The purpose of this blog is to identify the warning signs of caregiver stress so that plans and modifications can be implemented to avoid unnecessary physical and emotional repercussions. 

Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout Syndrome200179830-001_5.jpg

There are a number of symptoms that caregivers should be aware of, including:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • New health issues, such as migraines or digestive issues.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual.

There are number of caregiver stress syndrome assessment tools available online, including one at healthinaging.org, that can be helpful in gauging if the caregiver is close to experiencing burnout.

 Relieve Caregiver Burnout Syndrome

A caregiver may be aware of some or all of their symptoms. The important part is to take necessary steps to identify the changes in your life and what areas of support may be needed. Here are some ways to cope with caregiver burnout syndrome:

  1. Seek spiritual and/or psychological support so that yshutterstock_238896103.jpgou don’t feel alone.
  2. Join a support group with other caregivers to learn how others address specific issues and to share your ideas.
  3. Consider reading books about caregiving and watching online videos and lectures on YouTube. There is a great amount of knowledge available to you online.
  4. Find ways to incorporate some interests into your life.
  5. Learn mindfulness or relaxation exercises.
  6. Enjoy an adult coloring book, crossword puzzles, word search or Sudoku puzzles.
  7. Read a good fiction or non-fiction book.
  8. Watch a favorite
    show or movie - alone or with your loved one.
  9. Consider activities that involve your loved one. You may need to make modifications but at the same time it will be good for both of you to spend time together outside of the patient/caretaker roles.

Caretaking is both a challenging and a rewarding role. However, it is important to be aware of your physical and emotional health and to know what steps to take to ensure that you minimize stress as much as possible.