Everything You Need to Know About Caregiver Fatigue
April 04 2022
Everything You Need to Know About Caregiver Fatigue
If you’ve ever had a loved one fall sick, you must be aware of the need you feel to look after them. It’s instinctual. We are a social species, and it is intrinsically ingrained in us to look after each other, especially if we have close bonds with them. We seldom think twice about it.
However, if you have ever been in the role of a caregiver, you must also be aware of the toll it takes on you. You risk exhaustion, both physical and emotional, and this can negatively impact your health. And if you succumb to it, you will not be able to do any of your duties. Neither toward you, nor towards your loved ones.
Why does this happen? What is this feeling? It is called caregiver fatigue, and in this article, we will take a closer look at it and what it can do.
Caregiver Fatigue: A Definition
Caregiver fatigue, also known as caregiver burnout, refers to the caregiver feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. Often, this leads to a negative change in attitude. They develop resentment towards the job, their duties, and the person they are taking care of. This can be problematic for obvious reasons.
Caregiving is a stressful thing. Being at the beck and call of someone else can become grating, but you cannot bring negativity to the table. Lingering stress, coupled with putting your own physical and mental health on the backburner, can result in caregiver burnout syndrome. If you yourself are feeling poorly, how can you hope to take care of others?
What Causes Caregiver Fatigue Syndrome?
You will feel that it is important to give yourself completely towards the betterment of a loved one, but once you focus all your energy towards that one goal, you will invariably neglect yourself and your own. Compounded with stress, this could lead you to a spiral of negativity about your patient and your role. This is when caregiver exhaustion sets in.
Some other factors that contribute to this are:
- If you are taking care of a family member, a close friend, or a lover, you might have difficulty differentiating between being a caregiver or what you mean to that person. The struggle to distinguish between who you are and who you need to be is real.
- The person you are taking care of, along with other members of their family, might make unreasonable demands of you. This might involve duties beyond caregiving. You may feel compelled to do these because you feel responsible, but it is not your job. It’s a team effort, so remind them of that.
- Sometimes, you might let your expectations carry you away. Just because you are pouring your heart and soul into caregiving does not guarantee that your efforts will bear fruit. Your loved one might be receptive, or they might not be. It all depends on the ailment. Do not let this reflect on you or devalue your efforts.
- Adding on to the last point, if you feel like your efforts are not bearing fruit, it might lead you to feel helpless. A shroud of despair might set it, and you may feel like nothing is in your control. You neither have the time to look after yourself, nor can you do something for your loved one. That is a stressful place to be in and leads to caregiver exhaustion.
How to Know if You are Tired of Being a Caregiver
Noticing that there is a problem is the first step towards treating it. If you are a caregiver, you need to be mindful of the following symptoms:
- You are actively distancing yourself from friends and other family members.
- You do not have enough energy, or the motivation, to work or try new things.
- You are leaning more and more into alcohol, drug, and sleeping pill use in order to take the edge off your nerves.
- You are forgetting to meet deadlines and stay on top of other responsibilities like paying rent, gas bills, etc.
- You are feeling one or more of the following: hopelessness, depression, helplessness, irritability, alienation, exhaustion, etc.
- You feel resentful towards your patient. You want to punish them for making you feel this way, usually by making them hurt in some way.
If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is time for you to take a break. Distance yourself from the stress. Take some time and work on treating it. How? That’s what we will discuss next.
How to Treat Caregiver’s Syndrome
You need to spend more time with yourself. It is what serves as fuel, the intangible energy you burn when you lose yourself in caregiving. There is no shame in giving yourself the same care you give others. If not, if you break yourself, then nobody wins. Your loved one will not get better. Instead, do the following:
- Ask others to pitch in: You don’t have to do everything yourself. Look into government-provided respite care or even private ones. If you don’t want to spend money, ask friends or family members to step in for you as you take a break.
- Speak up: Especially if you feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Nobody is telepathic. You have to let friends and family members know how you feel if you need a break. They are there for you if only you ask.
- Keep your friends close: Don’t let stress ruin your close relationships. Keep yourself open to your friends and family. It’s okay to lean on them when things get overwhelming. Sharing jokes and small talk will give you the energy you need to keep going.
- Get out of the house: if possible, get out of the house as much as you can. This stops you from feeling trapped. If the illness is mild, take your patient out with you for a walk. Fresh air can do wonders to lift spirits, and staying cooped up will do you no favors.
- Stay fit: Exercising helps keep you active. It keeps your body well-maintained and high-energy. Otherwise, you might succumb to sloth, and that only spells disaster. Even if you can only give five minutes to a small workout, it’s better than nothing.
- Eat: Does this need to be said? Treat yourself. Invest in a healthy, balanced diet for yourself. You need it if you’re going to be working around the clock. If you forget to do so, prepare healthy meals for your patient and yourself together. Then eat together. It’s always a positive thing.
Get Caregiving Help
Caregiver’s fatigue is scary, but only if you work in a vacuum. Your efforts are appreciated. Talk to your friends and other family members. Tell them all you’re doing. They will acknowledge it for you. You are never truly alone. Better yet, let us at All American Home Care take some of the burden off of your shoulders. Reach out today; we’d be happy to discuss your situation.