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According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, an estimated 44 million adults in the US provide unpaid care to their loved ones. Taking care of an elderly loved one can be physically, emotionally, and financially straining. In fact, research has shown that one in every three caregivers report feeling depressed. The heavy responsibility that falls on the shoulders of caregivers can quickly drain a person, especially for those with little to no support from family. The overload of responsibilities mixed with feelings of isolation, can lead to what psychologists call “Caregiver Burnout.” Caregiver burnout is a condition brought on by unrelieved stress and symptoms of which mirror those of depression. Caregiver burnout not only affects the caregiver’s well-being, but also their ability to provide adequate care to their loved one.
Here are 7 Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout.
- Withdrawal from Others- You will notice the caregiver emotionally pulling away from others, even close relatives or friends. They will express loneliness, yet avoid social interaction.
2. Disinterest in Activities- Caregivers experiencing burnout lose their passion and motivation, even for hobbies they once loved. Pastimes that once brought joy will no longer bring excitement.
3. Abnormal Eating- Whether eating too much or not enough, you will notice a change in eating patterns. This can lead to noticeable weight loss or gain.
4. Sleep Problems- Difficulty falling asleep or waking up, or still feeling fatigued after adequate amount of sleep are signs of stress taking a toll.
5. Changes in Mood- You will notice sudden mood changes or overreactions to common accidents. The caregiver will seem excessively irritable, argumentative, and impatient. They may show resentment, anger, or a lack of compassion towards the loved one they are caring for.
6. Feelings of Hopelessness- Caregivers experiencing burnout will feel emotionally down. They will express feeling overwhelmed, worried, or hopeless. They may feel trapped or want to escape reality.
7. Weakened Immune System- A weakened immune system demonstrates the affect stress is having on their body. The caregiver may catch illnesses more often or hang on to an sickness longer than normal.
Caregiver Tip- As a caregiver, it is hard to know your limits, especially when you are constantly putting other’s needs before your own. Does it sound like you or someone you love is on the road to Caregiver Burnout? Caring.com has a “Caregiver Burnout Quiz” to help you evaluate your stress levels and learn strategies for how to manage caregiver’s stress.
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