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Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver Burnout

Do you feel depressed and guilty all the time? Do you think you have no life beyond your loved one? Perhaps, you could be suffering from caregiver burnout.
Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Life can be quite unforgiving for some people, mostly for no fault of theirs. These people are entrusted with an endless duty of caring for their ailing family member. An old parent suffering from Alzheimer's, a child suffering from Down's syndrome or a spouse bed ridden due to a terrible accident or illness, can all cause you to give up your own life and care for them for the rest of your life. Caregiver burnout is a condition wherein a person stops having a life of his own and is entailed for a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Steps must be taken to overcome this condition immediately.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

As mentioned above caregiving incessantly for an ailing family member can take its toll upon you. The incessant demands of the ailing person, your own high expectations from yourself and your physical limitations can become a cause of persistent feeling of worthlessness and guilt. It is very difficult to come out of this situation unless you admit that there is a problem and are willing to take measures to overcome it. You should know you are in for a caregiver burnout when you experience any or all of these symptoms.
  • Harmful behavior towards oneself or the ailing loved one.
  • Persistent gloominess.
  • A haunting feeling that your life is no more yours.
  • Always on the verge of tears.
  • Always snapping and annoyed at the care recipient.
  • Change in eating habits, resulting in unwanted weight gain or loss.
  • Change in sleeping pattern with either inability to fall asleep or a constant feeling of sleep deprivation.
  • Listless attitude towards life.
  • Loss of interest in your favorite activities with friends.
  • Persistent feeling of worthlessness and guilt.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Minor physical problems like headache, back pain, etc.
  • Panic attacks or anxiety.
  • Completely negative approach towards life. Nothing in life seems good enough for you.
If you answer in positive to the above symptoms, perhaps it's time for you to take remedial steps.

What Can You Do About It

Remember, caregiver burnout is not a physical problem. You may call it a neurological problem, which can be corrected by adopting a correct attitude. The first step towards resolving this issue is the acceptance to the problem. You can then seek help from an expert or you can resolve it yourself.

Know Your Limitations
Unrealistic expectations are bound to bring in a lot of disappointment. Hence, bear in mind that you cannot always do everything that you or your loved one might expect from you. There will be times, when you may not be able to get things done. During such times, appreciate yourself for what you have been able to accomplish, instead of cribbing over those you couldn't.

Decrease Your Care Recipient's Reliance on You
If your loved one is in a position to interact with you, you can always involve them in decision-making. Let them decide for themselves what they wish to eat, how they want to dress up. This will decrease their reliance upon you for every small thing. Moreover, it may even give them a sense of worthiness, which may improve their condition.

Start Having a Life of Your Own
You need not feel guilty about giving yourself some time. After all the hard work, you sure deserve a quality time with yourself. Set aside some time in a week to indulge in your favorite activity or just meet up with your old friends. Read a book, go to Church, listen to good music to de-stress yourself. Take good care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising and leading a good life. Whatever happens, do not forget to have at least 15 minutes of 'me time' at the end of the day.

You can find support groups that will enable you to cope with this condition in a better way. Do not feel embarrassed or guilty to seek help from a therapist. Remember, you too deserve a good life!