The role of the family caregiver can be an extremely difficult responsibility. Your days are filled with multiple responsibilities including, but not limited to, constant care, both physical and emotional, medication management and doctor appointments. On top of the responsibilities that come from caregiving, you have your own emotions and daily responsibilities to handle as well.
While being a family caregiver may not be a typical “job,” it is a job. The complexities of this job can compound over time and we know how easy it is to feel burnt out. No matter how much you love the person you are caring for, caregiver burnout can lead to depression or anxiety. Are you or a family caregiver you love at risk of burnout? Let us share a few signs of caregiver burnout you need to be on the lookout for.
1. Drastic change in mood.
Many times, when someone takes on the role of a family caregiver, he or she is eager to take on this task. When this person is experiencing caregiver burnout, however, his or her outlook on the situation may shift to negativity. This can be expressed as sudden lack of compassion, annoyance or disinterest in routine responsibilities. The caregiver may even completely regret taking on the responsibility.
2. Loss of sense of duty.
While not a qualification of the role, many family caregivers feel guilty leaving his or her family member or taking a brief respite for him or herself. The caregiver understands how important his or her role is in the family member’s life. A sign of caregiver burnout can be when the original sense of duty slowly slips away and is replaced with irritability. Rather than feeling an obligation, a burnt-out family caregiver will feel irritable about any caregiving responsibilities.
3. Feelings of wanting to harm the loved one.
Even though the role can be frustrating at times, most caregivers still feel an overwhelming sense of love towards their loved one. When the frustration becomes too much to handle, a burnt-out caregiver may have feelings of wanting to harm his or her family member. These feelings may be minuscule or more severe, such as wanting to shake him or her out of frustration. No matter the severity level, feelings of wanting to harm a loved one is a sure sign of caregiver burnout.
4. Feelings of wanting to harm oneself.
If the stress and responsibility has increased to the level that the caregiver wants to harm him or herself, a caregiver is definitely burnt out. Although this is an important role, it is important to take care of oneself as well. Please seek immediate help and talk through your feelings with someone.
5. Loss of interest in what was once enjoyable.
Caregivers must try and balance caregiving responsibilities with their personal life. It is important to continue to socialize with friends and family and take part in enjoyable activities. If a caregiver has lost interest in doing what was once enjoyable because they are too consumed by the responsibilities, they are most likely beginning to show signs of burnout.
Being a caregiver can be a stressful responsibility and it is important to maintain balance. If you or someone you know has taken on the role of a family caregiver, work together to ensure the caregiver has the support he or she needs. If a caregiver is experiencing any of these signs, do not wait to ask for help! If you need advice on this or any other elder law matter, do not wait to contact us!