Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

A combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion arise when caregivers take on more than they can handle.  Burnout occurs when caregivers don’t receive adequate help and support when taking on the huge responsibility of caring for another person.

Caregivers often feel guilty about spending any time on themselves rather than their sick or elderly loved one.  This can lead to fatigue, stress, and even depression.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of burnout in order to prevent reaching this stage:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Lost interest in previously enjoyed activities/hobbies
  • Feelings of helplessness, irritability, and hopelessness
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Getting sick often
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you’re caring

Causes of Caregiver Burnout

Role confusion: Confusion often arises when family members assume the role of the caregiver.  It is sometimes difficult for a person to separate their role as a caregiver from their role as a spouse, child, friend, etc.

Unreasonable demands:
By assuming that their caregiving role is their own exclusive responsibility, many caregivers take on too much and place unreasonable burdens on themselves.

A lot of times, caregivers are so focused on the needs of their family member or loved one that they fail to properly take care of themselves.  If any of the following factors feel familiar to you, take a step back and consider getting outside help and support.

For more information about this topic, look for A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully with Chronic Illness by Susan Milstrey Wells. For ongoing support, consider Today’s CaregiverMagazine or look for local support at http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers/.

Your Employee Relations Program, Magellan Health, has resources and experience to help you with more information. Visit www.magellanhealth.com or call 1-877-704-5696 for more information, referrals and support.

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About Lorea Seidel

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