Understanding Caregiver Burnout

adult son sitting with senior mother
Caring son saying goodbye to her mother when leaving the residential home.

Imagine how it might feel to awaken in a strange location, not able to remember how you arrived there or even what your name is. Utter confusion swiftly develops into anger and fear, and you may find yourself lashing out at the stranger positioned alongside your bed, talking to you in a soft voice.

A scenario like this paints a bleak and sadly accurate picture of a person with dementia’s reality. Now envision standing before a person you love, and having that person view you with no recognition at all. Every day your heart breaks a little bit more, but you push through the pain and go on with your care responsibilities for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association, an astonishing 17.7 billion hours of care are supplied by family caregivers every year to those with Alzheimer’s. With the continual emotional strain that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can result in, it is easily one of the most stressful kinds of care provision. Family caregivers have a number of issues that contribute to their amount of stress, such as difficulty with “letting go” of the senior affected by Alzheimer’s; feelings of guilt when contemplating nursing home placement; or fear of seeming vulnerable and inadequate if outside help is sought.

Unquestionably, these stats outline a critical need for chronic and long-term caregiver respite. Not only that, but respite is needed more frequently than once or twice per year to avoid caregiver burnout. Family caregivers need to realize that support is not only helpful but necessary, and they need to take a break and engage in a life of their own. Committing a life entirely to providing care for someone else can, in fact, cause great harm to both individuals’ lives. Family caregivers who allow themselves routine respite feel rejuvenated and better able to provide the highest quality care. And those who do not are at risk for caregiver burnout.

Bring in some caregiving reinforcements if you recognize the warning signs of burnout, including:

  • Excessive stress and tension
  • Incapacitating depression
  • Persistent anxiety, anger, or guilt
  • Diminished overall life satisfaction
  • Relationship issues and social isolation
  • Lower immunity and greater need for healthcare services
  • Elevated use of medicines, drugs or alcohol

If any of these red flags resonate with you, contact Stay Home Care at 615-964-7726. Elder care in Brentwood and surrounding areas is just a phone call away. We’ll provide a free in-home consultation, and develop a customized dementia support care plan for your loved one, providing you with a much-needed opportunity to recharge.