Did you know that in the United States, more than 40 million adults provide personal care to people in need? No group feels the stress more than family caregivers, and no matter how much care you give, caring for someone can be stressful.
Caregiver burnout or compassion fatigue is a common occurrence and can be especially troubling for caregivers who provide daily in-home care.
We know you love to care for others. Here are few tips on how you recognize warning signs of burnout and caring for yourself.
Caregiver Stress: What are the Warning Signs?
Have you ever had a day when you felt “off” or “just not yourself”?
It is a common occurrence, often due to physical or mental exhaustion, but it may also indicate a burnout is about to surface.
It is best to know the signs early so that you can address them effectively. Stress can take many forms, but it is important to know what to look for. While providing care, you could make more mistakes.
Here are some things to look for:
- Exhaustion for a long period of time
- Lack of interest in activities
- Swings in mood or temper
- Feelings of worry or sadness
- Headaches or body aches
When these symptoms begin to appear, you should seek help or take a break. Find out how you can relieve stress more effectively by consulting a doctor.
Caregiver Burnout: What Happens if I Ignore It?
Your symptoms can often become even worse if you do not treat your stress and exhaustion. Overexposure to stress can negatively impact your physical and mental health.
Stress can affect caregivers in the following ways:
- Depression and anxiety: Anxiety and depression are more common in caregivers. The risk of heart disease and stroke is also dramatically increased by anxiety and depression.
- Weakened immune system: Stressed caregivers often have weakened immune systems and are more likely to fall ill with the flu or cold than non-caregivers. Additionally, a weakened immune system can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and shorten surgery recovery time.
- Obesity: Stress causes weight gain in most people. Other health problems associated with obesity include heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Short-term memory problems or difficulty paying attention: Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients have a higher rate of memory loss and difficulty focusing.
Caregiver burnout should never be ignored. Taking control of your physical and mental health can improve your quality of life for years to come.
How to Prevent and Avoid Compassion Fatigue
The first step in improving your mental and physical health is to acknowledge your early-onset compassion fatigue symptoms. Then, you must take active steps to change your lifestyle.
There is no one right way to deal with stress, but the high level of stress and exhaustion placed upon caregivers can lead to personal harm down the road.
Here are some great ways to prevent caregiver stress:
- Help is available: Nobody can do it all on their own and asking for assistance does not make you a bad caregiver. Regardless of how small or how complicated the task may seem, your friends, family, and employer want you to perform at your peak!
- Enjoy a break: Here is your chance to relax and unwind. Spend some time with your friends and family, or engage in relaxing activities such as reading, getting a massage, or taking a long bath.
- Take care of yourself: Ignoring your own health is never a good idea. Help is available from those you trust who can help you if you are struggling.
- Make the most of your time: Many people perceive this differently. Consider praying, relaxing, or spending time alone. Feel free to do whatever you need to do to better connect with yourself.
- Plan out your day: It is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done each day. Break your day into smaller chunks and celebrate small victories throughout the day.
- Enjoy Yourself: Take time off or a special treat like a massage or vacation.
Caring People caregivers provide quality, compassionate and trustworthy service to all our clients.
Call 877-227-4649 and speak to one of Caring People’s home care consultants.
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