Sometimes the toll of being a caregiver is too much to bear. The last thing anybody wants to see is caregiver burnout. Below are some signs of caregiver stress that can lead to burnout. If you are experiencing any of these signs on a regular basis, ensure you are following some of the suggested self-care tips. As always, talk to your doctor if you feel your stress is adversely affecting your health and life; perhaps he or she may suggest other solutions based on your medical history. You may also want to inform your other family members so they are aware.
- Physical Stress: You might get headaches, have high blood pressure, even cry and feel sick to your stomach.
- Sleep Issues: You could toss and turn, get night sweats or have skin that feels clammy, feel wide-awake but exhausted, or just be unable to relax and rest.
- Increased Sadness: You might cry and feel a real lump in your throat, and think negative and sad thoughts.
- Broken Concentration: It might be hard for you to concentrate on the task at hand and even forget to do things you have planned.
- Persistent Anxiety: You may regularly feel inadequate or anxious about how you are measuring up as a caregiver. You may feel incapable of performing the heavy caregiving work required. This may make you feel angry or guilty.
- Exhaustion: You may notice a complete lack of energy and find daily tasks overwhelming.
- Inability To Relax: Does your mind not allow you to let go of your day? You might not be able to sit and just watch TV or chat with a friend. You are constantly thinking of the work that needs to be done.
- Lowered Immunity: You might get sick more often and for longer. Your immune system will be overrun by stress and unable to fight infections.
- Extreme Irritability: You may find yourself snapping at people around you, yelling orders, and becoming generally high strung and irritable. You may feel frustrated with an overwhelmed or helpless state of mind.
- Increased Medication Use: You may start taking drugs (even too many Tylenol or Advil), drinking too much alcohol, or smoking.
Regardless of how careful you are to incorporate self-care strategies, there are circumstances that can really take a toll on a caregiver, even though the tasks may not feel strenuous—including the length of time in the role. For example, if someone asked you to hold up a small tea light candle to help you light up the room for a few minutes, that would not cause you any issues. However, if someone asked you to hold up that same tea light for the entire day, then you would find it very uncomfortable for your arm and also for your back, neck, and head muscles.
What if you were asked to hold up a tea light candle for a few months or years? Certainly the little tea light you thought was easy to hold up in the first place has now become a health hazard for you. Compare this analogy to the role of caregiving. My hope is that you will be passing the tea light on a regular basis for others to hold to give yourself a break. For this to happen, you need to be open to asking and accepting the help.
The following article was an exurb from Karen Tyrell’s first published book called, “Cracking the Dementia Code” – Creative solutions to cope with changed behaviours which was launched on Saturday September 21st, 2013 on World Alzheimer’s Day. To get your copy, simply use this link: http://bit.ly/15DzuSU
To learn more about Karen and her dementia consulting company, visit: www.DementiaSolutions.ca
Karen Tyrell, CDP, CPCA
Personalized Dementia Solutions
Dementia Consultant and Educator
You don’t have to journey alone.