The role of the family caregiver is one of the most underrated and stressful jobs there is. Most caregivers selflessly take on the responsibility of caring for a family member who is physically injured, mentally ill, diagnosed with an illness or has become too frail to take care of him or herself. Constant hands-on care, doctor appointments and administering medicine are just a few of the serious duties that a caregiver will manage on a daily basis.
This responsibility can weigh heavily on caregivers. It is not uncommon for caregivers to feel burnt out. The physical, financial and emotional stress can easily compound over time. As a result of this stress, the caregiver’s mood can quickly switch from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.
If you or someone you love is a caregiver, you need to watch out for burnout. Let us share a few signs of caregiver burnout that we see in our practice.
1. Withdrawal from friends and family.
This may seem subtle at first. The caregiver may claim he or she is “too busy” or “too tired” to join in plans and socialize. If the caregiver continues to withdrawal from friends and family over an extended period of time, however, he or she may be experiencing burnout. Further, the caregiver may want to spend time alone but feel guilty when not present with ill or elderly loved ones.
2. Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
A sense of helplessness can accompany caregiving, especially if the caregiver’s loved one is extremely frail or ill. Sometimes, a form of depression accompanies the sense of helplessness. Caregivers also may lose interest in previously enjoyed activities or may feel guilty taking part in activities when their loved one cannot.
3. Feelings of wanting to hurt the person being cared for.
A sense of frustration may occur when a caregiver is burnt out. This can arise for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, when the person being cared for does not follow directions, cannot understand what is being said or the caregiver is unable to leave the home. A feeling of wanting to hurt the person being cared for is a common sign of caregiver burnout. Frustrations with these responsibilities, however, should never turn physical. When feelings towards the person become negative, it’s time to take a step back and remember this person is family.
4. Feeling increasingly irritable.
Caregiving is a difficult and stressful job, but it should not affect someone’s mood for the long term. Long-lasting irritability and a short temper are common signs of caregiver burnout. This includes taking frustrations out on other people, finding it difficult to see positivity and happiness, and feeling negative even when nothing wrong has happened.
5. Feelings of self-harm.
One of the most severe signs of caregiver burnout is feelings of self-harm. When the pressure has reached its peak and the stress and responsibility adds up, a caregiver may become so depressed, stressed and anxious that self-harm may seem like the only option. Know that these feelings are temporary, and it is important to speak with someone about self-harm.
Caregiving for a family member is a stressful job. If you or someone you know is a family caregiver, be sure to look out for these common signs of caregiver burnout. For more information, do not wait to contact a member of our legal team today!