When you take on the responsibility of being a caregiver for a family member, there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders. From doctors’ appointments to late-night scares to the daily grind of meal prep, housekeeping, hygiene, medication reminders, it can get overwhelming. With the level of dedication and time commitment required, it’s no wonder that burnout among family caregivers is so common.
If you’re a family caregiver or have a loved one who is, here are four common signs of caregiver burnout that can help identify when it may be time to seek some help.
Falling into this role can place a tremendous amount of stress on a caregiver. And all of that anxiety and stress can affect and impede sleep. Laying in bed with countless nights of tossing and turning without being able to shut off your mind and get that rest you so desperately need starts to create a domino effect throughout others areas of your life. If you have trouble sleeping the full night through or feel exhausted throughout the day, it could be time to seek outside help.
Towards the earlier phases of burnout, an increased level of irritability can also develop, especially if the caregiver is struggling to get a decent amount of sleep each night. You can expect increased edginess, with a tendency to snap at others. Do you feel short fused in non-provoked situations? Do you feel angered or annoyed at having to do simple tasks? This could be a sign that you’re starting to burnout.
As the burnout escalates, feelings of irritability can often transform that short fuse into feelings of anger. Bursts of anger can occur more frequently, often for seemingly irrational reasons or situations. When the smallest thing can be all it takes to instigate anger, this is a sure sign that caregiving is having an effect.
Generally, as feelings of anger progress, it can lead to a certain level of mental and emotional exhaustion where thoughts become unfocused, and retaining or remembering everyday things become a challenge. This is no surprise as the combination of lack of sleep, increased stress and anxiety, along with bouts of anger, can deplete the mind and body and impede your ability to concentrate.
Taking care of a loved one demands the investment of your whole physical, mental, and emotional self. And as much as we’d like to provide the care we know Mom and Dad deserve, burnout becomes a common factor that signals when we no longer can take on that level of responsibility alone. When your body and mind begin to suffer, it’s crucial to understand that you must first take care of yourself before you can take care of another.
You don’t have to do it alone. Call 613-706-1578 to discover how we can help you navigate this difficult time and get the care you and your family need and deserve.
- Stephen Bleeker