Filling Your Own Cup:  Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving for a loved one can be rewarding, however, over time, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting.  It can be overwhelming when you are juggling your role as a caregiver with busy family schedules and work.  Not taking the time to personally refuel and care for your own needs can take its toll and lead to burnout.

Many caregivers report problems with sleep, fatigue, fighting constant colds, changes in eating habits, a feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.  According to the Family Caregiver Alliance: National Center on Caregiving (“FCA”), studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.  FCA also notes that if you are a caregiving spouse between the ages of 66 and 96 and are experiencing mental or emotional strain, you have a risk of dying that is 63 percent higher than that of people your age who are not caregivers

It is incredibly important to recognize that you have emotional and physical needs, and to take preventative steps so that you do not compromise your personal well-being.  If you do not fill your own cup, who will?

Finding ways to reduce your stress can go a long way toward improving your overall well-being.  There can be several factors that trigger stress as a caregiver, but often asking for and accepting help can offer some relief.  Many caregivers do not want to seem like a failure or be a burden to others by asking for help, however, no one can do it alone.  It can be useful to be prepared with a “go to” list of specific ways others can assist you.  Think beyond friends and family—explore community and professional resources.  There are many organizations that help and even respite care to allow caregivers to take a much-needed break.  Sometimes, having a safe space, like a support group, to share advice and understanding with others going through the same experience can help immensely.

Carving out time to ensure that your physical needs are met is also incredibly important.  Getting proper rest and nutrition can go a long way to increasing energy and making you feel better.  Exercising can also reduce stress and promote better sleep, amongst numerous other health benefits.  Finally, make sure you see your own doctor, and address your own health issues when you are sick.  Caregivers will often discuss their loved one’s care with the physician, but they seldom talk about their own health issues.

If you need some suggestions for caregiving resources in your area, please contact our elder care attorneys at (408) 217-2977.  The Family Caregiver Alliance: National Center on Caregiving also offers numerous resources and a national telephone hotline at (800) 445-8106.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about our firm, our services and the experience of our attorneys. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may be subject to change without notice.