Recognizing Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a term used to describe a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion that a person experiences when caring for a loved one. People who care for their elderly parents can often experience caregiver burnout, and let us be clear – it has nothing to do with a lack of love or compassion for their loved one. To put it simply, people are not machines. We were not wired to provide around the clock care with no breaks or time for ourselves. Yet, many people who experience burnout often feel guilty and continue to push through, much to the detriment of their physical and mental well-being.
If you are a full-time caregiver for a senior loved one, it’s important to learn how to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout. Taking time for yourself is not only recommended, but absolutely critical for the state of your health.
Burnout Sign #1: Change in Attitude
Perhaps you’re generally positive, but you feel like your attitude has slowly changed over time. Maybe you’re having more negative thoughts and feelings than usual. A noticeable change in attitude is a common sign of caregiver fatigue. When we feel mentally and emotionally exhausted, it negatively affects our mental health and canthen negatively impact our overall perspective on life.
Burnout Sign #2: Withdrawing From Conversations
If you’ve been purposely avoiding conversations with friends and family, it might be because you’re overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a caregiver. Burnout can result in people withdrawing from regular activities with family and friends, weakening their relationships.
Burnout Sign #3: Weight and Appetite Loss
Many of us have gone through stressful periods where we’ve been so overwhelmed that we either forget to eat or we lose our appetite. When you’re responsible for caring for a senior loved one 24 hours a day, it’s easy to place their needs over your own. If you aren’t taking any breaks or time for yourself each day, you may notice a decreased appetite or unhealthy weight loss.
Burnout Sign #4: Sleep Patterns Changing
Sleep is vital for our health, and chronic tiredness can be very dangerous. Most of us require between seven and eight hours of sleep every night to function at our best. It may be a sign of caregiver burnout if you’ve noticed that you’re waking earlier or staying up later than usual. A change in your sleeping pattern can be very jarring, and you’ll shortly realize you feel tired throughout the day instead of awake and alert. While you might feel you can function with a lack of sleep for one or two days, a chronic lack of sleep can have disastrous effects on your health.
Burnout Sign #5: Weak Immune System
A strong immune system is key to maintaining good health and well-being. Being mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted can result in a weakened immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to illnesses. When your immune system is weakened, you might also feel fatigued – making it even more challenging to carry out your daily caregiver responsibilities. Maintaining a strong immune system is the best protection against colds, flu, and serious illnesses.
If you’d like more support with caring for your elderly loved one, or if you’re noticing the signs of caregiver burnout in yourself and other family members who look after a senior loved one, don’t hesistate to contact our team at UMC today. For more information, please visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org