Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout Not to Miss

It is a rare occasion when either speaking to or meeting with family caregivers that I do not have tucked away this invaluable list of signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout to share with them before I leave.    My advice to caregivers is to print this list out and place in a plastic sleeve and tape it to your bathroom mirror.  Every single day you should be aware of these signs – often that creep in slowly- and zap our ability to cope, quickly leading to caregiver burnout.

What should you do if you see yourself exhibiting these signs or symptoms?  Be proactive, and seek out a caregiver support group, licensed professional counselor, Stephen Minister or pastoral counselor at your faith community or a healthcare professional.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. … Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.  It can often lead to anger, rage, or guilt that results from unrelieved caring for a chronically ill dependent.  

With over 44 million unpaid caregivers in the US alone,  it is imperative that we are all looking out for others – this fast-growing and vulnerable population who desperately needs support, education, and access to resources.   Caregiver burnout can lead to neglect and abuse for those whom they are caring for.  It is a serious public health issue and too often goes unnoticed as caregivers tend to isolate themselves, especially when they are stressed.

Please print this list out and share with others who are caring for a loved one:

Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout

  1. Altered eating patterns
  2. Increased sugar consumption or use of alcohol or drugs
  3. Increased smoking or strong desire to start again
  4. Frequent headaches or sudden onset of back pain
  5. Increased reliance on over-the-counter pain remedies or prescribed drugs
  6. Irritability
  7. High levels of fear or anxiety
  8. Impatience
  9. The inability to handle one or more problems or crises
  10. Overreacting to commonplace accidents
  11. Overreacting to criticism
  12. Feelings of anger toward a spouse, child or older care recipient
  13. Alienation
  14. Feeling emotional withdrawal
  15. Feeling trapped
  16. Thinking of disappearing or running away
  17. Not being able to laugh or feel joy
  18. Withdrawing from activities and the lives of others
  19. Feeling hopeless
  20. Loss of compassion
  21. Resenting the care recipient and/or the situation
  22. Neglecting or mistreating the care recipient
  23. Frequently feeling totally alone even though friends and family are present
  24. Wishing simply “to have the whole thing over with”
  25. Playing the “If only” games; saying over and over “if only this would happen’; or “If only this had not happened”

Pam Brandon is President/Founder is AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.   For more information on our training for professional and family caregivers, please visit our website.

8 thoughts on “Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout Not to Miss”

  1. This is really interesting, You’re an excessively skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for in quest of extra of your wonderful post. Additionally, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

  2. Stumbled across this page. what an eye opener. I have been beating myself up for so long for my lack of energy ,drive and constant depression.
    This all makes sense. For some reason having a label for it helps.
    Now maybe I can take some steps to dealing with it and getting myself back.

  3. Thank you for the read. My eyes have opened up and realize that these are a few steps to improve myself as a caregiver.

  4. I found this googling caregivers. I have been “caring” for my mother over the last 5 yrs. I am resentful, angry, emotionally bereft and exhausted. She treats me rudely, is combative and sometimes, Im ashamed to say I hate her. I could probably be in therapy for years. She has sucked the life out of me. I hired outside help and she still was never satisfied. Now in assisted living (just 7 days) she calls incessantly demanding her things -(yelling at me never my sister ) I am the youngest of two. I have vented here more than anyone wants to read, my apology. I am glad to know Im not alone in this nightmare.
    All used up in Ohio

  5. I have always been one to stay with it no matter what. I is to me, like a long distance race for it is a matter of keep going until you see the finish line. Unfortunately with Alzheimer’s, the finish line is not quite clear so it turns out to be one long, unending race. I am in the throws of meltdown at the moment and am overcome by paranoia and guilt of how I am doing in the process of taking care of my wife and what people are saying on the outside about my degradation as a healthy person. I need help and this week is a must to make a loud noise about desperation and request for assistance.

    1. Randy, thank you for sharing your feelings. Know that you are not alone. Getting the help you need is paramount, especially once you’ve reached a point of burnout, which sounds like you have. I highly encourage you to immediately get some respite care for your wife so you can take care of yourself. You should seek out a counselor who specializes in helping those who are caring for others, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Your local Alzheimer’s Association or Area Agency on Aging can help with this service. Also, I would suggest you make an appointment to see your doctor and be open as to the struggles you are facing. There is help, and you cannot do this alone, no matter what the circumstances. I sincerely hope you take these suggestions to heart. Warmly, Pam

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