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Signs of Caregiver Burnout and How Respite Care Can Help

adult child rubbing his forehead looking tired

The number of family caregivers in America has increased by over 10 million between 2015 and 2020, with 1 in 5 adults caring for loved ones without pay. Twenty-one percent of these caregivers describe their own health as being poor, and part of this can be attributed to caregiver burnout.

“Caregiver burnout is prevalent and serious,” says Ramona Wilt, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Sales at Presbyterian Homes. “These feelings of extreme stress and exhaustion can lead to negative outcomes for both caregivers and their loved ones. It’s important to have a plan in place to support your mental health as you provide home care services.”

This article will provide you with a primer on caregiver burnout and explain the benefits of respite care to alleviate stress and feelings of being overwhelmed experienced by family members.

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion that affects someone physically, emotionally and mentally. It affects family caregivers more often than those who are employed as caregivers, which makes it particularly important for nonprofessional caregivers to watch for signs of burnout.

Burnout often occurs when a caregiver’s needs are not properly addressed due to the stress associated with their caregiving responsibilities. They often feel overwhelmed by the deterioration of a family member’s health, financial pressures, and changes in the dynamics between them and their loved one.

If you’re a caregiver, here are some signs you might be experiencing caregiver burnout:

  1. Reduced energy
  2. Issues with sleep
  3. Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  4. Weight loss or gain
  5. Feeling like you have little freedom
  6. Becoming uncharacteristically impatient or argumentative with your loved one for whom you’re caring
  7. Depression or anxiety
  8. Chronic headaches, stomachaches, or other ailments
  9. Weakened immune system

How Respite Care Prevents Caregivers from Experiencing Burnout

It can be difficult for some caregivers to realize when they need help. Often, they’re hesitant to hand off responsibilities.

“In many cases, family caregivers need a reminder that they cannot take care of their loved one the way they want to without first making sure they themselves have sufficient support,” says Ramona Wilt.

Respite care at a senior living community like Westminster Place provides older adults with temporary care and support and offers caregivers the respite they need to tend to their own well-being.

Caregivers can rely on respite care for a few days or a few weeks while they:

  1. Take time to rest and refresh
  2. Go on a much-needed vacation
  3. Receive care for their own health needs
  4. Tend to work, family, or personal obligations

Regardless of how a caregiver uses the time their loved one is in respite care, Westminster Place will provide individualized support to their loved one through their continuum of care, which includes assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.

Short stays in senior living communities allow older adults to experience the many benefits of senior living. Temporary residents get to experience all the perks of a Life Plan Community.

At Westminster Place, they’ll enjoy a vast variety of amenities, including walking paths, a greenhouse, and a woodworking shop. They’ll also benefit from our wellness programs; relax in our safe, secure and fully furnished apartments; and join in activities with peers.

Managing Caregiver Stress

Respite care services are a lifeline for caregivers and can also be a way to strategically reduce your chances of burnout.

Here are some other ways you can prevent burnout:

  1. Be realistic and identify your limits. Setting boundaries can help you step back before your caregiving responsibilities threaten your well-being.
  2. Set aside time for yourself. Even if you only have short windows of opportunity to care for yourself, make it a priority to designate this time to your needs.
  3. Talk about your struggles with a trusted friend or confidante, not with the person you’re caring for – they’re probably not in a position to help.
  4. Think about long-term plans as they relate to your loved one’s well-being. Determine with your family member at what point it would be wise to move to senior living. Respite care can be the impetus for some of these necessary conversations.
  5. Join a caregiver support group like Family Caregiver Alliance or National Alliance for Caregiving. Connecting with other caregivers gives you the opportunity to work through some of the struggles and questions you might have about how to find balance.

A Respite for Both Caregivers and Loved Ones at Westminster Place

Westminster Place is a Life Plan Community in Evanston, Illinois, that offers short-term respite care to seniors whose caregivers need a temporary reprieve. We will pick up where you left off, making sure your loved one receives attentive and personalized care as they enjoy our carefree community life. Contact us today to learn more about how our respite care services are the ideal solution to prevent caregiver burnout.