Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Updated: May 6, 2019


You try to hide the feeling of being overwhelmed, however; caregiver burnout is serious and can lead to significant physical and mental health issues.  It is critical to know the signs and take steps to take care of yourself.


Here are some signs of caregiver burnout:

  • Overreacting to minor frustrations

  • The constant feeling of exhaustion

  • Loss of interest in things you use to enjoy/ isolation from social gatherings

  • Decreased work productivity

  • Increased use of alcohol/stimulants

  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns

  • Scattered thinking

  • Feelings of resentment towards the person you are caring for

  • Being short-tempered with family members

If you see yourself in any of these points you need to make some drastic changes NOW before it becomes critical.


Some Self-Care Tips:


Seek Help Emotionally:

Support group

Though it seems that you have no time to add another thing to your calendar it is important to make the time Group participants will understand how challenging the caregiving journey is and how hard it is, at times, to remain patient with the mental and physical decline of someone you love.  As well as how frustrating it is trying to “navigate the health care system”.


Get an “on-call” friend

Ask someone in your close circle of friends to act as a sounding board (sometimes just a venting board) so you can release the pent-up emotions without concern of judgment or criticism.


Journal/Blog

Sometimes writing things down can help you express your emotions. Sharing your emotions via a blog can help others in realizing they are not alone in their struggles with their care journey.


Consider counseling

This can assist you in dealing with the natural feelings that come with caregiving. Among these are anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and guilt. Some feelings are part of the grieving process you and your care receiver are experiencing. Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t take time for counseling until their caregiving days are over. (If you are a working caregiver, counseling may be provided as part of your health insurance package, so call your health insurance provider. Companies offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s), may also cover counseling. Caregivers aged sixty or over may qualify for counseling under the Older Americans Act, Title III-B.)


Seek Help Physically:

Ask for help

If you have other family members in the area, call and ask them to help you with the care needs. Then LET THEM DO IT! Let go of the need to control because it is part of the cause of your burnout.


Respite Care

If you care for someone in a home setting you can hire a caregiver to come to the home to manage their care for a week or two. Consider scheduling a respite stay at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.


Get a physical

Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a complete physical and KEEP IT. Though caregiver burnout feels more like an emotional issue, it can lead to serious health issues if left unmanaged.


Get away

Take a vacation, even if it’s just for a weekend or an overnight stay somewhere away from your regular hectic schedule.

Find ways to take care of yourself TODAY!  Putting it off will only continue the downward spiral which can lead to critical, life-altering decisions and behaviors. 


Please note: If you are feeling overwhelmed and are afraid you will hurt your care receiver if you don’t find help right away(800) 971-0016 is a twenty-four hour crisis and information line.


Written by Author and Keynote Speaker Sue Salach-Cutler. Sue has a Master’s degree in Gerontology and has worked in the healthcare field for over 25 years.  She is the Author of “Along Comes Grandpa”, a caregiving resource guide, and the novel “If I Walked in Her Shoes”. Her programs and books provide the vital resources needed to help family caregivers as they maneuver through the caregiving journey. Find out more about her books and programs here: CaregiverLife.com.  Adapted from: https://theworkingcaregiver.org


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