Beating Caregiver Burnout – Tips for Managing Your Compassion Fatigue

caregiver holding patient's hands

Over 40 million adults in the United States have some personal role in providing care to seniors. Sometimes, caring for someone can be stressful, and no group feels it more than family caregivers.

This common phenomenon is known as Caregiver Burnout or Compassion Fatigue and can be especially troubling to those providing in-home care daily.

So how do you identify caregiver stress and burnout and prevent it from becoming a larger issue? This blog will help you better identify the warning signs of onset compassion fatigue, acknowledge the risks of long-term caregiver burnout, and provide tips to better balance and manage your caregiving lifestyle.

What are the Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress?

Have you ever had a day where you feel “off” or “not yourself”?

Don’t worry! This is a normal occurrence and often points to physical or mental exhaustion but can also indicate potential burnout down the road.

The stress you are experiencing can take many different forms, but it is best to know the signs early so you can tackle them effectively. For example, you may make more mistakes when providing care.

Here are some more warning signs:

  • Feeling exhausted for long periods
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Short temper or mood swings
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or body aches
  • Feeling exhausted for long periods
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Short temper or mood swings
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or body aches

It is important to reach out for help or a break when these symptoms begin to occur. Talk to your doctor to relieve stress better. 

What Happens if I Ignore Caregiver Burnout?

If you do not treat your stress and exhaustion, your symptoms can often turn into even worse problems. This overexposure to stress can often lead to adverse effects on your physical and mental health too.

Here are some common ways stress affects caregivers: 

  • Depression and anxiety. Caregivers are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression also severely raise your risk for other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Weak immune system. Stressed caregivers end up with weaker immune systems than non-caregivers and spend more days sick with the cold or flu. A weak immune system can also make vaccines less effective and even shorten the recovery time on surgeries.
  • Obesity. Undue stress causes weight gain in most people. Obesity can also raise your risk for other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Problems with short-term memory or paying attention. Caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease are at higher risk for problems with short-term memory and focus.

The stress for caregiver burnout should never be swept under the rug. Taking control of your physical and mental health can be a great way to improve your wellbeing for years to come.

Tips to Prevent and Avoid Compassion Fatigue

After you’ve acknowledged your symptoms of early-onset compassion fatigue, you need to take active steps to change your lifestyle to improve your mental and physical health. 

While not all forms of stress are bad, the high amount of pressure and corresponding exhaustion placed upon a person experiencing caregiver burnout can cause personal harm down the road.

Here are some great ways to preemptively tackle your caregiver stress:

  • Ask for help! No one can truly do it alone, and asking for assistance does not make you a bad caregiver. Whether it is with small tasks or a schedule, your friends, family, and employer want to see you at your best!
  • Take breaks! This is the opportunity to take time to yourself. Spend time with friends and family, or take on some relaxing activities like reading, a massage, or a long bath.
  • Seek out care! There is never a good time to ignore your own health. If you are struggling, please reach out to those who you trust to help you.
  • Be intentional with your time! This looks different for a lot of people. Pray, relax, or take quiet time alone. Do whatever you need to better connect with yourself.
  • Make a To-Do List! There are a lot of things to do each day, and staring at the whole list can seem overwhelming. Break your day into small chunks or tasks and take some time to reaffirm yourself and celebrate the small victories.
  • Treat Yourself! This is also a great time to look into time off or a personal treat like a massage or night out. 

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Contact us today for more information about matching up with an experienced, professional, and accessible In-Home Caregiver!