What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion you may experience from the overwhelming responsibilities of supporting and caring for another individual. It can happen to anyone providing care for another because it is easy to put your loved one first before your own health and wellbeing.
Common Symptoms of Burnout
It is important to recognize early signs and symptoms of burnout, so that you can make the changes to take care of yourself better before it affects your health and ability to care. Below are common symptoms:
- Cutting back on hobbies and activities that you enjoy
- Cutting back your sleep, exercise, and cooking
- Poor eating habits
- Constantly feeling tired even after resting
- Increased impatience with family, friends, and/or the person you’re caring for
- Resentment or hopelessness regarding the situation
Ways to Manage Burnout
Cope with stress
- Recognize warning signs early on and identify what you can and cannot change. Accept what you cannot change and focus on what you can control.
- Practice positivity by acknowledging and rewarding your own efforts. Imagine how appreciative your loved one would be if they were healthy. Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories too!
- Participate in activities that you enjoy and help you relax.
Take care of yourself:
- Prioritize what brings you joy.
- Socialize with friends and family.
- Increase your physical activity to help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase your energy.
- Look after your health by attending your doctor’s appointments, getting regular dental checkups, and staying up-to-date with vaccines.
- Ask for help. Divide your responsibilities into smaller and more manageable tasks for your friends and family to help with. Look into available support services for caregivers so you can have time to take care of yourself and do the activities that you enjoy.
- Accept help. It is easy to feel like you have to do it all on your own, but you don’t have to. Others want to help. You just have to let them.
Support for Caregivers
Caregiver support groups provide a safe space to express your feelings about your situation and remember that you are not alone. You can surround yourself with others that understand the emotional, mental, and physical fatigue you feel. Ask your local senior centers, hospitals, and local organization for your loved one’s health problem of available support groups in-person and online.
Respite care is planned care for your loved one that provides temporary relief for you, giving back well-deserved time to rest. It can be informal (with the help of friends and family) or formal (explore those options below).
|Types of Respite Care||Description||Cost|
|Companion Care||Supports meal preparation, shopping, housekeeping||Can be done with local volunteers or > $20 per hour|
|Personal Care Assistants||Supports the meal preparation, shopping, housekeeping and activities of daily living (bathing, transferring, eating, toileting, dressing)||Typically $15 to $40 per hour for intermittent help and $120 to $200 per day for live-in care|
|Adult Day Care||Allows your loved one to socialize and participate in activities in a safe and supportive environment||Typically $25 to $150 per day and some may take insurance|
|Residential Programs||Some specialized facilities (like nursing homes) offer short-term (days to weeks) stays for adults who need help with everyday tasks||Varies widely based on location and amount of care needed|
|Caregiver Co-op||Group of caregivers who take turns caring for each other’s loved ones. It gives you some time off and a community with other caregivers and those receiving care||By caring for another member’s loved one, you can qualify with no additional cost|
Remember, by taking care of yourself you will also help your loved one! You are not alone. Refer to the links below to help you find what fits you and your loved one’s needs.
- Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) is a service available for unpaid caregivers in Washington. Staff can assist with finding support groups, respite care, and local services specific to your county.
- Lifespan Respite Washington provides a list of respite providers in Washington and links to other resources. For unpaid caregivers, vouchers may be offered to be used as payment for respite services.
- ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center respite locator allows an easy way to find providers and programs based on your state. It also provides information about funding and eligibility.
Prepared by Diep Ngo PharmD Candidate 2022
- Caregiver Stress. 2020. Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress. [online] Available at: https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/signs-of-stress/emotional-signs-caregiver-stress
- Caring.com. 2021. A Caregiver’s Guide to Coping with Stress and Burnout – Caring.com. [online] Available at: https://www.caring.com/caregivers/burnout/
- Smith, M., 2020. Caregiver Stress and Burnout – HelpGuide.org. [online] HelpGuide.org. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiver-stress-and-burnout.htm