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Understanding the Difference Between Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Meeting the needs of an aging loved one who is becoming increasingly dependent can be overwhelming. Although this responsibility is frequently associated with high amounts of stress, it is vital have effective strategies for managing it. Without diligent and ongoing efforts to obtain life balance, in-home caregivers can gradually wear down to a state of burnout. Once burnout occurs, taking care of an elderly family is no longer a healthy option for either party.

Identifying Signs of Caregiver Stress

The signs of caregiver stress can be very unobtrusive. People often feel tired and out of sorts. They may deal with moderate amounts of depression or anxiety and occasional feelings of resentment might be present. Other signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of mood balance
  • Increased eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Failure to meet outside responsibilities
  • Diminished social life
  • The development of new health issues

Recognizing Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout develops when people do not identify and address the signs of caregiver stress. This is both a physical and emotional state of extreme fatigue that has spiraled beyond the point of management. Some of the common signs of burnout are:

  • Increased impatience and irritability
  • Frequent illnesses and an inability to recover from these quickly
  • Constant fatigue
  • Severe depression or anxiety
  • Extreme negligence in self-care
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty relaxing, even when assistance is offered

Common Misconceptions About Stress Management

There is a very common misconception that people can somehow shoulder overwhelming amounts of responsibility and stress if they simply adopt positive and proactive mindsets. This, however, is simply not the case, especially when it comes to caregiving. Rather than shouldering more responsibilities as new needs arise, caregivers must find effective strategies for delegating duties that they cannot feasibly manage on their own. They should also identify as many outside resources as they can and ask for assistance when they need it.

Strategies for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout 

Although caregiver burnout is a very real issue, it is also one that can be easily avoided. Taking advantage of the services offered by Annapolis home care agencies, using respite services when necessary, and signing up for programs that supply transportation assistance, meal delivery services and other forms of assistance is vital. With this help, caregivers can have more free time to focus on their own needs, build balanced social lives and re-energize. The efforts that people make to pamper themselves and tend to their own needs will have a significant impact on the life qualities of the aging family members they’re responsible for.

When family caregivers feel supported, the challenges of caring for a senior loved one feel more manageable and the level of care your loved one receives remains high quality. Find the resources you and your loved one need and deserve by reaching out to Home Care Assistance at 443-302-2771. We offer hourly and live-in care Annapolis families trust, and can assist your senior loved one with everything from grocery shopping and cooking healthy meals to laundry and personal grooming.