Caregiver burnout refers to the exhaustion of the mind, body, and emotions. This state is often experienced when a person caring for a loved one directs all their energy to offer care while neglecting the self.  Therefore, when a person exerts more effort than they are physically capable of, they can begin to experience a tiring state. Caregiver burnout brings out a change in personality, thus making you angry, frustrated, and indifferent towards your loved ones. 

Due to this shift in personality, caregiver burnout can prevent you from taking care of your loved ones. Moreover, when you are emotionally exhausted, your mind can trick you into compromising the relationships with your loved ones. Taking this into account, it is important to hire a home health agency, when you are going through a difficult time in caring for your parents or grandparents. 

Causes of Caregiver Burnout 

Caregiver burnout is commonly caused by overexertion of the caregiver. However, there are several reasons that can lead to you reaching this stage. Some of the most common causes of caregiver burnout are stated below.

Feelings of guilt

Most caregivers experience a tremendous amount of guilt for spending time on themselves. This usually occurs when the boundaries between the actual self and the role of the caregiver are erased. By adapting their primary role as a caregiver, these individuals feel that their main duties lie with caring for their loved ones. As a result, they stop looking after themselves and feel guilty for engaging in acts of self-care. 

Overestimation of one’s abilities

Role confusion can also lead to the overestimation of one’s ability to take care of others. Caregivers usually experience burnout when they stretch themselves too thin to care for individuals who require professional assistance. For instance, taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s’ or muscle atrophy necessitates the need of a trained nurse, as the job requires a full-time commitment to the role.

Unexplained The absence of control 

The lack of control can also lead to stress and anxiety that results in caregiver burnout. Caregivers are often burdened with a plethora of responsibilities and concerns, which includes taking care of loved ones all day, bringing in a steady income, as well as worrying about the health of the people that they are caring for. All of these concerns can make the person feel an absence of control. This lack of control can result in frustration and physical and mental exhaustion. 

The lack of expertise

Sometimes, caregiver burnout results from the gap in the caretaking requirements and the caretaker’s skills. When the caretaker lacks the professional abilities to take care of the special requirements of the loved ones, they end up pushing themselves way more than they can handle. Due to this, these individuals end up feeling physically and mentally exhausted. For instance, if your loved one suffers from geriatric muscle diseases, such as sarcopenia, your responsibilities could be more than what you are capable of handling. 

Other factors

As every case is different, there can be a myriad of factors that can influence the possibility of caregivers’ burnout. The signs often become apparent once the individual realizes that they are unable to function proficiently. Some other factors that contribute to caregiver burnout include extreme emotional demands from care receivers’ condition, conflicting demands, a huge workload, and a lack of privacy.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

There is no standard criterion that sets the diagnosis of caregiver burnout. However, there are a few signs and symptoms that can tell you that it is time to hire professional assistance. 

Withdrawal from social life

A major sign of caregiver burnout is feeling withdrawn from your loved ones. When you are taking care of someone, it becomes easy to limit your social interaction to that person. Hence, you isolate yourself from your friends and family members, which results in you feeling even more unhappy and depressed. 

Loss of interest

Taking care of someone is also emotionally draining. When you are involved in the role, with no other hobbies or activities, you can start to lose interest in the things you once found enjoyable. This may include meeting your friends, or habitual activities such as cooking, exercising, or any other creative talents.  

 Feelings of hopelessness

It is fairly simple for caregivers to lose themselves in caring for others and neglect their physical health. Therefore, another sign of a caregiver’s burnout is the changes in appetite. If you find yourself overeating or not eating, it is a sign that you are not in an optimal state. This can worse your health problems if not addressed. 

Insomnia or Hypersomnia

Similar to the changes in appetite, the changes in sleeping patterns can also demonstrate burnout. If you are sleeping for longer durations or having difficulty sleeping at night, it is essential to consider taking professional assistance.

Feeling sick or tired

The constant feeling of being ill or tired is another common sign of burnout. This experience is caused by overexertion, as your body is unable to handle the pressure being placed on it.

Resentment towards the person you are caring for

Sometimes, caregiver burnout can impair your relationship with your loved ones. Due to the irritability and exhaustion, you unconsciously start to resent the person you are looking after. This resentment can further provoke feelings of guilt, which can mess up your mental health.

Caregiver burnout is a serious issue. If you feel that you or your loved one are going through this difficult phase, you must consider hiring a  professional home nurse to care for your parents/ grandparents. This way, your mental and physical health can be prioritized, along with that of your loved ones.

For more senior insights & home care assistance, head back to the My Nurse Family blog.

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