If at any time you were or are a caregiver for a family member, a loved one or if you do it professionally, we think you are a superhero. We know you face hardships, challenges and difficulties for doing a tough and demanding, but necessary, job.
We admire you and we want to help! We’ve gathered these tips to help you identify burnout and what to do if you have it.
Numbers about Caregivers
If you are a caregiver no matter what your reason is, be it for love of a relative, for a job, or for simply wanting to help and contribute to society, you are one of nearly 8 million adults in North America who is caring for an older adult according to Stats Canada (2018).
According to Stats Canada, approximately 70 percent of caregivers care for an older adult who is older than 65, 22 percent are in charge of helping at least two people concurrently, and the other 8 percent of caregivers are in charge of caring for three or more people. It's also true that about 32 percent of all caregivers describe the experience as stressful and exhausting.
Detecting Caregiver Burnout
If you want to avoid the consequences of caregiver exhaustion, it is very important to detect the symptoms in time. In the long run, burnout symptoms can cause emotional destructive behaviour in the caregiver. If the symptoms are already occurring, rapid treatment should be applied so that damage does not become irreversible.
If you identify with several of the following symptoms, you may be in danger of suffering from caregiver burnout, or you may be burned out already:
- Loss of energy and vitality,
- Excessive sleep
- Increased consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and/or anxiolytic or hypnotic drugs
- Memory problems, difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in activities and people
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Frequent irritability and anger for no apparent reason
- Frequent changes in mood
- Increase in nervousness, sadness, and frustration
- Problems in the workplace
- Economic problems
- Disproportionate punishments, or derogatory or humiliating treatment towards the person being cared for
Dr. Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach, define these burnout symptoms as the psychological condition resulting from situations that generate stress continuously. Professionals don't see it as something to be taken lightly, and we advise you, as a caregiver, not to see it that way either.
Treating and Preventing Caregiver Burnout
If you have some or all of the above-listed symptoms, here are some tips to help you heal or prevent further burnout:
- Ask for help. If you need help, it does not make you a bad caregiver, It just makes you another human being. Many times we cannot do everything alone.
- Get plenty of rest. This looks different for everyone. Get some sleep, go out to the park, visit your friends, go to a spa or just enjoy a long bath.
- Take care of yourself. Have regular check-ups with your doctor and make sure your health is in good condition. When it isn’t, take care of yourself first.
- Exercise! Find a physical activity you love to do and try to do it at least three times a week. Walking is also good.
- Eat well. A balanced diet goes a long way, as well as eating at the same time everyday. Regularity will help your body.
- Sleep well - at least eight hours a night.
- Sit back and enjoy your tea or coffee. Meditate, pray, or journal. Do what makes you happy and relaxed.
- Make a list of your daily activities and tasks and see if someone can help you with some of them.
- We’ve said it already, we’re going to say it again: People often want to help; don't be afraid to ask for help.
Active Pro: The well-being of our older adults is our top priority!