Caregiver Burnout? 3 Signs You Need a Break


If you’re a member of the “sandwich generation,” caring for an aging parent while dealing with the demands of work and possibly children or even grandchildren, it can sometimes feel like it’s just too much.

Often, caregivers are on a 24/7 hamster wheel, working so hard they don’t even realize they’re getting burnt out until it’s too late and something has to give. At this point, all the hundreds of balls they’ve been keeping precariously in the air come tumbling down. Responsibilities fall to the wayside; deadlines or important events are missed; they are short-tempered, snapping at friends and family.

Recognizing that you need a break is the first step to getting help and lightening your load to a more manageable schedule. Here are three signs you may be on the verge of caregiver burnout.

1. You’ve gained or lost weight.
When caregivers are focused outwardly on caring for others rather than taking care of themselves, a healthy diet is often the first thing to suffer. Whether you’re skipping meals and losing weight drastically, or eating poor food choices at the wrong times of day and have started gaining weight, if you’ve gone up or down a size or two quickly, it’s time to make some changes. (And we don’t mean just shopping for new clothes, although it may be a good idea to treat yourself to a few outfits that make you feel fabulous.)

2. You have this cold you just can’t shake.
Do you feel less than 100 percent most of the time? Have you been blaming allergies? Do you get rid of one ailment only to get sick again? Your body is run down from caring for too many people besides yourself. Start taking vitamins, including making sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, since many people don’t, and try to delegate some tasks so that you can take a break.

3. You don’t want to be around other people.
It’s difficult spending all your time caring for a loved one. The 24/7 nature of a caregiver job might make you crave “alone time” whenever you have a free second. But if you dread the thought of being around people your own age, socializing or doing any of the things you used to love to do, you could be on the verge of burnout.

Forcing yourself to get together with other people probably won’t help. You’ll just look at it as another item on your to-do list, another activity demanding your time. Instead, delegate tasks or look into respite care for your loved one so you can get the break you need — and deserve.

Where’s Your Oxygen Mask?
Anyone who’s ever flown has heard the instructions to put the oxygen mask on yourself before any children accompanying you. This is also a powerful metaphor for life. To do your best as a caregiver, you must take care of yourself first. This includes eating right, exercising and, most importantly, taking time for yourself as needed.

Senior communities often offer respite care for a weekend, week-long or even a month-long break. Some communities also have daycare services so you can sneak away for a manicure, or just a nap! Look into what you can do to lighten your load. And, lest you forget, take a photo of an oxygen mask and pin it above your desk or on your refrigerator, so it will remind you to take a breath when you need it.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 342-4297 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.