If you’re caring for a senior family member, you know there can be a lot of emotionally rewarding benefits. You also may have experienced occasional feelings of anger, frustration, exhaustion, loneliness or sadness. If so, you’re not alone. In fact, in 2020, 41.8 million family members, friends, and neighbors helped care for someone 50 or over, according to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. But if you’re experiencing caregiver exhaustion or caregiver fatigue, remember: If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
This blog post will show you how to spot caregiver exhaustion in yourself and offer some self-care suggestions.
What is caregiver fatigue?
Caregiver fatigue is when you feel physically, emotionally and physically exhausted. Some common symptoms include:
- Feeling tired and run-down
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- New or worsening health problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling increasingly resentful
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
- Smoking more than usual
- A sudden weight gain or loss
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Frequent headaches, body pain or physical problems
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Neglecting your own physical and emotional needs
- Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life
- Anxiety about the future
- Depression or mood swings
Causes of caregiver exhaustion.
As a caregiver, you may be so busy caring for someone else that you neglect your own emotional, physical and spiritual health. The demands on your body, mind, and emotions can start to seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue, hopelessness and ultimately burnout.
Some other leading factors that can lead to caregiver fatigue include:
- Role confusion: If you’re suddenly thrust into caring for a loved one, especially a parent, it can be hard to separate your role as a caregiver from your role as a son or daughter.
- Unrealistic expectations: You may expect your involvement to have an immediate and positive effect on the health and happiness of your loved one. But this may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
- Lack of control: You could become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage and organize your loved one’s care.
- Unreasonable demands: Your siblings and other family members may place unreasonable demands on you and/or disregard their own responsibilities and place burdens on you as the “primary” caregiver.
- Too close: When you’re doing it every day, you may not be able to recognize when you’re suffering burnout, and you may eventually get to the point where you can’t function effectively or become sick.
Relieving caregiver fatigue.
If you don’t take time to regularly relieve stress and recharge your batteries, you could end up getting less done in the long run. Taking a short break can help you feel more energetic, focused and productive. Here are some self-care suggestions:
- Ask for and/or accept help.
- Join a caregiver support group.
- Make to-do lists, and set a daily routine.
- Take time to do activities you enjoy.
- Be physically active, eat healthy and get enough sleep.
- See a doctor for regular checkups.
- Try yoga or other daily relaxation and meditation practices.
- Maintain friendships.
- Set up a regular time to talk with a family member or friend.
- Spread the responsibilities.
Peace of mind for your loved one and your family.
At Ventana by Buckner, our Life Care option provides a sense of security with a smart, practical plan that offers access to higher levels of care. It’s also probably more affordable than you think. And all of our care options are a great way to ensure your loved one gets the supportive care they need in an engaging environment. To learn more, contact us here.