Burnout is a major problem among caregivers. Specifically, caregiver burnout (according to WebMD) is "a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion" often associated with an attitude shift from compassionate to apathetic in regards to their care-receiver.
The symptoms include both physical and mental afflictions, including anxiety, fatigue, and depression. While you can address burnout with counseling and even short-term medication, prevention is key. AgingCare points out a several of the more subtle symptoms of burnout. We discuss 3 below, and three more in our next blog post.
1. You are frequently sick.
Jade had always been healthy, but she noticed that she seemed to be getting frequent sinus infections after she had begun caring for her mother, Paula. Your emotional state influences your physical state. Jade's immune system was compromised by the stress she felt when caring for her mom.
2. You are noticeably clumsier.
Bart is a part-time college student and also his grandparents' live-in caregiver. He loves Jay and Joan, and insists that his caregiving duties do not cause any additional stress. However, since the beginning of the last semester he's been more accident-prone than usual - dropping dishes, stubbing toes, even backing his care into a mailbox! Bart's onset of clumsiness could indicate that he is distracted by worry, or even just more tired than usual.
3. You don't reach out anymore.
When his grandmother was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Conner spent hours researching the disease and communicating with different support groups. After several years of caring for Martha, however, he barely pays attention during her increasingly frequent medical appointments and he doesn't bother checking up on his online support groups. Even the best caregivers can be overwhelmed. Whether it is from a feeling of hopelessness or just information overload, not reaching out can be a major sign of impending burnout.
We will continue exploring this topic in our next blog post.
For more information, visit AgingCare here