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Understanding and Managing Caregiver Burnout

By: Commonwealth Senior Living / 24 Nov 2023
Understanding and Managing Caregiver Burnout

Being a caregiver can be a rewarding and challenging role. On one hand, it can be fulfilling to care for a loved one. Many caregivers develop deeper connections with those they are caring for and take comfort in knowing they are improving their quality of life. On the other hand, there will be frustrations to overcome. Witnessing a loved ones health decline, while meeting the physical and mental demands of caregiving can be overwhelming. According to a 2022 survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, around 43.5 million U.S. adults provide unpaid care for a family member or friend. It is a stressful responsibility, and without proper support, caregivers can experience burnout.

In a more recent AARP report, surveyors discovered 40% of caregivers consider the emotional stress that comes from balancing caregiving and work to be the most challenging part of their lives. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we'd like to share five ways to avoid or manage caregiver burnout:

  1. Recognize the signs. Common symptoms of caregiver burnout include depression, anxiety, withdrawal, physical fatigue, and sleep problems. Caregiving is a 24/7 job, making it easy to neglect self-care. It is crucial to identify these signs early on to prevent symptoms from progressing.
  2. Find support. You are not alone! Many caregivers experience burnout and oftentimes it can be greatly beneficial to seek guidance through support groups, friends and family, or professional help. Many organizations provide resources to connect caregivers, such as the National Alliance for Caregiving, Family Caregiver Alliance, and the Alzheimers Association. At Commonwealth Senior Living, we also provide support through a monthly Virtual Caregiver Support Group. If you are interested in joining this group or learning more, please contact caregiversupport@commonwealthsl.com. Making connections with others experiencing similar situations can be comforting.
  3. Take care of yourself. As a caregiver, you may feel that your loved ones needs come before your own. It is essential to take care of yourself not only for your well-being but also for the person you care for. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and making time for activities you enjoy are good places to start in establishing a self-care routine.
  4. Set boundaries. This may be challenging but necessary to avoid burnout. Saying no can be difficult when you care about someone but be honest about what you can realistically accomplish. Remind yourself, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
  5. Seek outside help. Sometimes its impossible to manage everything on your own. Seeking outside support can provide a fresh perspective and expertise. Professionals such as social workers and elder law attorneys can provide guidance on coordinating care, legal issues, and financial planning.

Caregiver burnout is a real risk, but it is not inevitable. Recognizing the signs early on, finding support, taking care of yourself, setting boundaries, and seeking outside help are all strategies to avoid or manage it. If you are a caregiver, please know you are not alone, and taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one. By prioritizing your well-being, you can continue to provide care for your loved one without sacrificing your own health and happiness.

If you are interested in joining one of our Caregiver Support Groups, contact the community nearest you.

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