What to Know About Caregiver Burnout and Asking for Support
Oct. 21, 2022
By Danielle Andersen
Caregiver burnout can take a toll on a person’s emotional and physical well-being
Whether it’s a spouse, an older relative, a friend or a parent, people want to care for their loved ones – no matter what. However, as people age, their needs change. The demands of caring can become complicated or challenging, especially when you’re juggling a career, parenting or getting older yourself. In fact, caregiver stress is a growing concern, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
“Asking for help is an important part of being a caregiver,” said Cyndi Magnuson, a care transition coordinator at Knute Nelson. “Taking time for yourself as a caregiver will help you be more present as you care for your loved one and provide them with the best care possible.”
Many people only seek help when they absolutely need it or have caregiver burnout. But, getting support before you reach a breaking point could have better outcomes for your well-being and the health of your loved one. Caregiver burnout can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally, or even put the person you’re caring for in distress.
If you’re wondering if it’s time to get help, an online assessment is one starting point. Here are some signs of caregiver burnout.
1. Avoiding phone calls from friends or family
“Many people are confused when thrust into the role of caregiver,” said Magnuson. “It can be difficult for people to separate their role as caregivers from their roles as spouses, children, friends or other close relationships.”
This can put a strain on your relationship with the person you’re caring for and feeling overwhelmed can also make you withdraw from friends and family.
2. Feeling hopeless — and helpless
Some caregivers don’t ask for help because they fear it means they don’t care enough. However, the opposite is actually true, explained Magnuson. “Asking for help is a sign of strength and not of weakness,” she said. “It is OK to get help, and likely, you can get the help you need.” With a background in nursing, she helps current and potential clients navigate a continuum of care – from assisted and independent living to home care.
3. Sleepless nights and unfinished meals
Wanting to do it all is a common concern among caregivers, but with progressive diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, you may have unrealistic expectations and high levels of stress. Stress can affect how you’re sleeping, eating and exercising, and lead to anxiety and depression. “Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens upon themselves, in part because they see providing care as their exclusive responsibility,” said Magnuson.
4. Seeking stress relief with alcohol
“Over time, the physical and psychological wear and tear of caregiving can lead to feelings of exhaustion and an inability to cope,” said Magnuson. “It can cause caregivers to make mistakes that could endanger a loved one, such as mismanaging medication, or lead to unhealthy behaviors like smoking or alcohol abuse.”
Looking into options for support could benefit you and your loved one in the long run.
5. A loss of interest in activities
Along with taking a toll on your physical health, such as headaches and body aches, caregiver stress can leave you too tired to participate in activities you once loved. “Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the patient,” said Magnuson. But, if you’re not your best self, the quality of care you can provide also changes.
6. Feeling like no one is there for you
An overwhelming sense of isolation or abandonment is another sign of caregiver stress, according to the HHS. Fortunately, you and your loved one do not need to go the journey alone. Age-care specialists, like Magnuson, can help find solutions, ranging from support to full-time care.
To learn more about the many options Knute Nelson offers, fill out a form, or contact our team at (320) 537-8076.