Dealing with Caregiver Burnout20 Sep, 2022
Caregiver stress can lead to burnout if you don't take care of yourself. Know more about the signs & symptoms of caregiver burnout and how to overcome it.
People of Determination in UAE
People of determination (POD) in the UAE make up for approximately around 11% of the population. Family members, friends, and loved ones who look after their daily functioning are known as caregivers. Caregivers are responsible for assisting them with day-to-day hygiene and personal care; that includes meal planning and medication schedules etc. To be able to help a loved one in need is meant to be a very rewarding experience. However, it is also not an easy commitment.
Quick Read Section
- Who are caregivers? - Loved ones that assist family members who are unable to look after themselves.
- What is caregiver burnout? – a caregiver’s state of complete mental and physical exhaustion.
- Signs and symptoms of burnout include:
- Social Withdrawal
- Loss of interest
- Change in sleep and appetite
- Fatigue and low immunity
- Steps to combat caregiver burnout:
- Find an outlet
- Focus on things under your control
- Attend to yourself
- Caregiver Support Groups
What is caregiver burnout?
Burnout refers to a state of complete physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Caregivers often experience this feeling when they overexert themselves and dismiss their own needs. The role of a caregiver is emotionally demanding in itself; when accompanied with severe physical, mental and emotional stress, it can lead to greater problems. Caregivers often take on additional responsibilities and overburden themselves – this serves as a contributing factor to burnout.
Caregiver burnout has negative health outcomes for not only the caregiver but also the loved one they are taking care of. Excessive mental and physical strain can cause lapses in judgement and mistakes that can end up being costly. The guilt attached to self-care drives the caregiver to overcompensate in their role which makes it difficult for them to put themselves first. Studies suggest almost 40% caregivers report symptoms of depression due to the lack of personal space.
Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
When caregiver stress is left unchecked over a period of time, it manifests into burnout. The signs of burnout eventually become difficult to ignore and require an intervention. Some of the symptoms include:
- Social withdrawal: feelings of detachment from close friends and family, inclination towards isolation, and loneliness
- Loss of interest: characterized as signs of depression – disinterest in daily activities, neglecting personal needs, feelings of hopelessness.
- Change in sleep and appetite: Erratic sleeping pattern – with disturbed sleep and inadequate rest. Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss.
- Fatigue and low immunity: Constantly feeling tired and drained, and falling sick more frequently and inadequate rest for complete recovery
- Irritability: Impatience and constantly feeling at an edge, intolerance, and short temper over minor inconveniences.
Steps to combat Caregiver Burnout:
A caregiver going through a phase of burnout is not fit to take care of a person in need. They need to take time off to recharge and make a full recovery before they can attend to anyone. Timely intervention is necessary to deal with burnout. Given below are a few measures one can adopt at an individual level:
- Find an outlet: It is very important to communicate your feelings as a caregiver to trusted friends/family members or a qualified mental health professional. Suppressing your feelings is not a healthy coping mechanism, it is recommended to let them out and vent to someone regularly
- Focus on things under your control: A lot of caregiver stress comes from thoughts spiralling into situations that you have little control over. You should take a moment to realign your thoughts and objectively the assess the factors under your control. Acknowledge and accept the factors that are beyond your control and let them go
- Attend to yourself: In order to support anyone, you need to be able to manage your own wellbeing. Listen to your body and give it the reinforcement it needs. Attend to your own feelings and make time for yourself. Do not let feelings of guilt take over self-care.
- Caregiver Support Groups: The biggest strength of caregivers can be sought in others going through similar experience. Joining a support group is not only a form of self-care but it also helps make your feelings heard and validated. Others’ experiences make you feel you’re not alone.
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