Taking care of an aging or terminally ill loved one isn't easy. Click here to explore the stages of caregiver burnout and tips to ease the stress.
Healthy Living

Identifying the Stages of Caregiver Burnout

She changed your diapers, fed you, and made sure you grew up healthy. But now, you’re becoming one of the 53 million caregivers in the US because your mom needs you to take care of her!

One thing that many caregivers aren’t prepared for is the burnout that can happen while caring for a loved one. That burnout feeling makes life worse for both the caregiver and those they care for.

There are three distinct stages of caregiver burnout to watch out for. Keep reading to learn the signs of each stage and how to prevent burnout from happening.

3 Main Stages of Caregiver Burnout

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It builds little by little over time until the caregiver snaps. These are the 3 stages of caretaker burnout to look out for.

Stress Stage

The first stage of burnout looks like typical stress for the average American. At this stage, caregiver burnout symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • High blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Heart problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • headaches
  • body pain

To relieve these symptoms, take breaks and practice relaxation techniques.

Burnout Stage

If the stress isn’t relieved, the next stage is burnout. The caregiver starts to feel unappreciated or lonely. But, they may also resist reaching out for help even when they feel overwhelmed.

Many of the stress symptoms still apply. But, also watch out for increased drinking or drug use, fatigue, social withdrawal, or feelings of resentment. These signs could mean the caregiver feels burnt out.

Compassion Fatigue Stage

The final stage is compassion fatigue. At this stage, the caregiver is beyond burnt out and doesn’t feel the same empathy for the people they care for anymore.

A caregiver with compassion fatigue may feel less patient and tolerant of those around them. They may also have angry outbursts that seem uncharacteristic for them. These are some other possible signs of compassion fatigue:

  • Depression
  • Stomach or bowel problems
  • Chronic headaches
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you think someone has reached this stage, reach out to them. A simple phone call can save a life!

How to Combat Caregiver Burnout

The best way to prevent a caregiver from feeling stressed and burnt out is to make sure the caregiver gets plenty of rest and personal time. Many caregivers don’t get enough respite from their responsibilities and the stress builds over time.

Often, the caregiver has round-the-clock duties. One of the best ways to help the caregiver in these cases is to bring in trained help. You can do a web search for “caregiver services near me” to find help when you need it.

You Can Do Anything but You Can’t Do Everything at the Same Time

We’re all humans and we need to make time for self-care regardless of our obligations. Neglecting your self-care is a sure-fire way to end up burnt out.

If you notice these signs in yourself or another caregiver, it’s time to take action to prevent further stress. Take breaks or hire someone to come help with some of your duties.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned how to spot the stages of caregiver burnout. If you’re looking for more helpful articles about healthy living, family, and more, check out the rest of our blog today!

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