Find Relief From Caregiver Burnout

January 17th, 2018

By: Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC Chief Clinical Quality Officer, BrightStar Care

“I’m just exhausted.”
“I’m irritable all the time, and I don’t know why.”
“I just want to be my mother’s daughter again.”
 
Over the years, caregivers reluctantly have made confessions like these to our home health nurses and caregivers. Their feelings are completely normal and understandable, but many caregivers struggle with the idea that they’ve failed if they need help managing a loved one’s health.
 
You haven’t failed – you’re simply overwhelmed. Caregiver fatigue can lead to a more serious condition that can affect your health and the well-being of the loved one in your care. Not seeking help can harm your relationship with your loved one, and in some cases can lead to physical or emotional abuse of the person for whom you are caring. However, there are signs that can alert you to get help before your stress gets to that point.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Providing constant care for a loved one can be emotionally taxing. You might be burned out if you often feel:

  • Depressed
  • Fatigued, or excessively tired
  • Highly emotional
  • Irritable without a clear cause
  • Resentful of your situation or your loved one
  • As if you could hurt your loved one

When combined with physical symptoms, such as muscle aches, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite, it’s understandable that caregivers can suffer a long time before seeking help. Often, caregivers have promised they wouldn’t bring an outside person into the home to help with care or move a loved one to a nursing home. Sometimes cultural traditions of caring for aging family members factor in as well and cause immense feelings of guilt. All of these emotions can clash with feelings of love and responsibility for an aging relative.

How Can Caregivers Find Relief?

Many caregivers benefit from support groups. Local community centers, senior centers, and churches often offer caregiver support groups. Many online support groups also are available. In these groups, you can safely share your feelings without fear of judgment and get advice from people who understand what you’re going through.
 
There also may be adult daycare centers in your community that provide affordable respite care.   That respite can be a wonderful break for you and a chance for your loved one to socialize with other seniors. There are more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging located throughout the United States that can connect you with support groups, adult day facilities, and other local resources for senior care.
 
Hiring a home health nurse or in-home caregiver is another excellent way to find relief from burnout. Families might fear that they’ll need to have in-home help around the clock and it will cost thousands of dollars a month. For most families, this is not the case. There are many options available to help care for your loved one. A nurse or caregiver come by a few times a week, usually just for part of the day. A home health nurse can help with medications or changing wound dressings as well as coordinating your overall care, and a caregiver or home health aide can help with bathing and other personal care as well as providing respite or companion care – a break in your day during which you can run errands or simply relax.
 
Support like this is vital to preserving your mental and physical health and also benefits individuals who need care. Aging adults can feel as if they’re burdens to their caregivers. This can cause symptoms such as depression, guilt, and physical pain. Additional care from an in-home nurse or caregiver provides your aging loved one a break from feeling like your patient and may help improve your relationship.
 
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to feel frustrated at some point in your caregiving journey and it’s not only okay, but important to seek help. You deserve it! You want to enjoy as much time as you can with your loved one. If your role transfers completely from loving relative to full-time caregiver, your relationship can suffer. But when you seek help, even once in a while, you get to be their daughter or son again.
 
If you’re considering in-home care for a loved one, call 866.618.7827 or find a location near you to speak with a BrightStar Care nurse.