Caregiver Stress: Identifying the Top 10 Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver Stress: Does the ringing of the telephone result in feelings of dread? Has your parent or loved one become so dependent on you that they call multiple times in a single day; and it seems as if the phone calls never stop? Have you reinforced this behavior, the continual and repeated phone calls, by being immediately available and answering the phone each time it rings including all hours of the night?
Caregivers want to be helpful but fail to see the longer-term consequences of day to day caregiving responsibilities and the negative effect on personal emotions, mental well-being and physical health. If you are uncertain whether you are experiencing caregiver stress, below are ten signs.
Caregiver Stress top signs:
• You don’t sleep through the night because you imagine the phone to be ringing, you hear your loved one who sleeps in another room get up to use the bathroom, or your thoughts race about other worries and concerns. The stress of caregiving occupies your mind that won’t stop thinking.
• Your patience is non-existent. You respond to others with negative comments because you feel that there are few, if any, positives in your life. Feelings of anger are all consuming and the effects of caregiver stress have taken over your life.
• You’ve become isolated, giving up opportunities to go out with friends because of the duty you feel to care for your loved one. It’s more stressful to think about going out than the caregiver stress you feel being at home not to mention that you’d have to find something to wear and spruce up your appearance.
• You have health problems that didn’t exist a year ago. You’ve gained or lost weight, feel depressed, and experience more physical aches and pains. You continue to focus on the health of your loved to the detriment of your own health and well-being. The stress of caregiving has resulted in significant health problems.
• You feel overwhelmed with all of the day to day responsibilities and don’t know how much longer you can continue to be the role of caregiver. You don’t see a way out so you feel even more overwhelmed and hopeless.
• You believe that no one understands your level of responsibility and that no one else could take care of your loved one. You refuse offers of assistance from others that you view as attempts to meddle or control. Caregiver stress has slanted your perception of the positive intentions and efforts of others to assist you.
• You experience panic attacks at the thought of what might happen. You have lost the ability to maintain a realistic perspective about the care situation of your loved one.
• You rush through one day to the next day with no thought or ability to make future plans for the care of your loved one. Due to the high level of caregiver stress experienced, you do your best to make it through the day and fall into bed exhausted.
• You are so attached to the role of caregiver that you feel you can’t take any time away, even for a few hours to take a break. The relationship between you and your loved one has become co-dependent because he or she depends on you and you are “addicted” to the behaviors of caregiving.
• You have isolated your loved one from family and friends because having visitors disrupts your daily routine and schedule. You fail to see the benefits of socialization for your loved one with people who are not you. Others would only interfere with your routine.
If any of these descriptors sound common, you are experiencing caregiver stress to the degree that attending a support group or individual counseling sessions would be beneficial. While the care you provide for your loved one is beneficial, the time and attention you devote is having a very negative effect on your life.
It’s likely difficult for you to imagine any other scenarios and you may not like the person you’ve become. You feel trapped. Other friends or family express concerns and you dismiss them. If something happens to you, what happens to the person for whom you provide care. Being a selfless caregiver is only beneficial if you are able to care for yourself at the same time you care for a loved one. Change is difficult for everyone, including your loved one. A change in routine for both of you may be the best opportunity to return balance to a situation that has become unbalanced and unhealthy.