Out of love, out of obligation, maybe out of a sense of just doing what’s right, you might be one of more than 38 million or about 11.5% of the population of adults in North America taking care of an elderly, chronically ill or disabled loved one, according to AARP’s claims.

Being sandwiched in-between taking care of an aging parent and a growing child, caretaking responsibilities can take a toll on a family caregiver. The mental load of managing another person’s health or disease and assuring that they are maintaining a good quality of life, all the while taking care of the rest of the household responsibilities.

Sound familiar?

If so, you’re on the road to caregiver burnout. It’s not taken lightly by psychologists—who define it as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved stress”—and should not be taken lightly by you. By the time most caregivers suspect burnout, they’re already suffering myriad symptoms.

In addition to coping with a loved one’s illness, they might also deal with financial pressures, changes in family dynamics and general disruption in family life. It’s a recipe for caregiver burnout that would negatively affect anyone’s ability to provide good care and potentially place the caregiver’s health at risk.

If you know what caregiver burnout is, you can protect yourself from burning the candle at both ends.

Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  • Lack of energy, feeling overwhelmingly fatigued
  • Sleep problems (too much or too little)
  • Changes in eating habits that can lead to weight loss or weigh gain
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Avoiding your own physical and emotional needs
  • Feeling like caregiving is taking over your life and it’s becoming overwhelming to manage
  • Becoming unusually impatient, irritable, or argumentative with the person you’re caring for and/or with others
  • Anxiousness surrounding the future
  • Depression or moodiness
  • Difficulty coping with everyday stressors and tasks
  • Headaches, stomachaches, and other physical problems
  • Frequent illnesses showing the immune system is compromised

Caregiver Burnout Prevention

Now that you know what to look for, here are some tips to help you avoid caregiver burnout:

  1. Ask for help! Needing help doesn’t make you a bad caregiver. It simply means you can’t do it alone (which, logically, no one can do it alone).
  2. Research respite care in your area to learn more about Home Care Agencies that could come in and give you the help you need to take a load off.
  3. Give yourself permission to take breaks. Pamper yourself with a bath, reading a book, going outside for a walk, or something that gives you a break.
  4. Take care of yourself. Keep your doctor’s appointments and make sure to support yourself with healthy diet choices.
  5.  Try getting up 15 minutes earlier and use the time just for you. Sit with your coffee or tea and enjoy it. Journal about your struggles and feelings to let them go. Embrace your spirituality.
  6. Make a list of your daily activities and tasks. See if you can delegate any of them. Perhaps your spouse can make dinner twice or a week. Maybe a friend or relative can run errands or help with laundry.
  7. Check into family-leave benefits from your place of work. This can take a huge weight off your shoulders by giving you more hours in your day to check off those things on your list.
  8. If your loved one is receiving hospice care, ask your hospice provider about local support groups. Communicating with others who are in your situation helps immensely, as does opening up and sharing your frustrations—and your joys!
  9. Seek social support when you’re needing a getaway, and stay in touch with friends and family. People often want to help – take them up on it!
  10. There is always support, especially when it doesn’t feel like it. Make sure to research what community support there is for caregivers.

You’re not alone.

If there is one thing to remember, you’re not alone. People want to help and they want to lend a hand for those they care about, let them do it. Also, don’t feel like getting help is the “easy” way out of your obligatory care. Getting help can make everyone happier and healthier.

To find out more about Respite Care, see our service here.


Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself

Caregiver Burnout: 8 Ways To Avoid It