Providing care to a loved one is among the noblest acts of love and kindness one can undertake, but that doesn’t mean the caregiver won’t suffer ill effects from the stress it brings.
Studies show that the stress of being a caregiver for a loved one poses great risks to the health and wellbeing of the one providing care, often culminating in an increased risk of serious illness or even mortality. A recent Stanford study found that roughly 40% of Alzheimer's caregivers die before the individual for whom they care.
Caregiver burnout manifests in exhaustion of a physical, emotional and mental variety, often accompanied by a change in attitude that can take a positive individual to someone who downbeat and pessimistic. This can happen when a caregiver doesn't get the help they need, or if they push themselves beyond their limits - physically or financially. Caregivers who have reached the burnout point may experience weariness, anxiety and despair, sometimes feeling for focusing on themselves for a time rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.
Caregiver burnout shares many symptoms with depression and stress. This may include:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Feelings of exhaustion, emotional and/or physical
- Always feeling tired or anxious
- Changes in appetite, weight, or both
- Propensity to become ill
- Fluctuations in sleep patterns
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other pleasurable activities
- Feelings of irritability, hopelessness and helplessness
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you provide care
One of the most effective ways to prevent burnout and continue to provide a high level of care for your loved one is through respite care programs such as Silverado Flex Care and Overnight Care.