Even though over 8 million Canadians provide unpaid care for a loved one, many family caregivers tend to feel isolated and alone. Some of this is due to burnout.
Caregiving involves hard work and dedication day in and day out. But even the most demanding jobs give employees vacation days and holidays off in order to ensure quality work and keep up morale. Nevertheless, many caregivers take it upon themselves to provide around-the-clock hands-on care with minimal respite.
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by caring for others while neglecting one’s own health. It often sneaks up on you while you are busy – you guessed it, caring for loved ones.
Burnout can take a significant toll on your health, so relief of this stress is imperative if you are to maintain any capacity to care for your elder.
There is another stage that exists beyond burnout—one that can be extremely scary. This stage is called compassion fatigue.
Warning Signs of Compassion Fatigue:
- Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and drained
- Not wanting to be around your loved one (choosing to work late, daydreaming about no longer having to care for them, etc.)
- A decrease in patience and tolerance
- Angry outbursts that are uncharacteristic of your behaviour
If you are experiencing the above warning signs, you need to practice self-care, for your health and the health of your elder. Respite care is in order. Find a friend or family member to help out, or hire a caregiver for home care.
If you need to give yourself an excuse because you feel you “should” be available non-stop for an aging loved one, think about loving yourself enough to allow a rest. A break can recharge your batteries and help you keep going on the journey ahead.