As a caregiver, you devote your life to helping out your beloved seniors. And while fulfilling the duties of a caregiver is rewarding, it can take an emotional and psychological toll on you since caregiving is a long-term challenge. Putting another person’s needs above yours can lead to caregiver stress syndrome.
Caregiver Stress Syndrome
Caregiver stress syndrome is a condition that is characterized by physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, resulting in complete burnout.
Taking care of another individual full-time is exceptionally demanding and requires a lot of emotional (and physical) labor. One can only have so much emotional capacity to deal with another person like that.
Factors Leading to Caregiver Burnout
Lack of compartmentalization:
You may find it hard to find the split between your own time and the time you devote to your loved one or at a senior living community. You might also struggle to separate your role as a caregiver from your role as a spouse, friend, child, etc.
Lack of control:
Frustration manifests as a result of your loved ones’ demanding needs and the lack of resources needed to care for someone with a long-term illness or disability.
After doing so much for a loved one, it is only natural to expect validation for your efforts. However, such expectations prove unrealistic when it comes to taking care of individuals with Alzheimer’s or other progressive diseases.
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
The symptoms of caregiver burnout look a lot like the symptoms of depression and anxiety. They include restlessness, sleeplessness, behavioral changes, loss of interest in life, social withdrawal, fatigue, changes in weight and loss of appetite, self-harm, feelings of resentment, etc.
Stress can knock on anyone’s door, whether you are a newcomer or an experienced caregiver. Taking care of yourself is necessary. It benefits not only you but also the person you care for.
Avoiding Caregiver Stress Syndrome
Here’s a list of ways to escape caregiver stress syndrome:
- Acknowledge that you have made a conscious decision to provide care. It will prevent feelings of resentment from taking root.
- Invest your time in things that bring you joy and a sense of purpose. This can be simple hobbies like painting, family, church, or your career.
- Celebrate all your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. When you feel unappreciated, look for validation in places other than the person you’re caring for. Talk about your feelings with a close friend.
- Go out with your friends and family. If you can’t hang out, invite them over!
- Get out of the house. Seek out friends, family, and respite care providers to step in with caregiving so you can have some time away from home.
- Don’t skip your meals and eat healthy with fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats such as fish, nuts, and olive oil.
- Get a total of 8 hours of sleep to boost energy, productivity, and the ability to handle stress.
- Consider respite care! Allow your friends and family to help you out with running errands so you can catch a well-deserved break.
- Explore out-of-home respite programs such as adult day care centers and nursing homes.
Remember, you cannot care for others if you don’t care for yourself. These suggestions are beautiful ways to create balance and avoid stress.