Caring for a close family member friend can be emotionally overwhelming. While many caregivers find fulfillment in helping another person, along with this comes feelings of loss, anger, grief, and guilt. Caregivers struggle with depression and anxiety at a much higher rate than the general population. Counseling can be very beneficial for helping people with what is called caregiver burnout.
Learning to cope with the myriad of emotions that accompany caring for persons with dementia is critically important. Unfortunately too often caregivers don’t realize they are spiraling downward until it’s too late. The importance of self-care goes well beyond eating right and exercising when it comes to caregiving. Counseling can be beneficial in allowing caregivers to express their emotions, while also benefiting from non-judgemental guidance that counselors can provide.
There is sound evidence that counseling and support groups can reduce stress in caregivers of people with dementia. This evidence is strongest for face-to-face or telephone assistance that is targeted at caregivers with depression and tailored to the individual and their circumstances. If caregivers can learn how to respond to persons with dementia, and understand the signs of depression and anxiety in themselves, they are much better prepared for day-to-day changes that are inevitable.
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. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or they try to do more than they are able, either physically or financially.
Symptoms may include fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, feeling irritable, hopeless and helpless, change in appetite, weight or both, changes in sleep patterns, getting sick more often, excessive use of alcohol or medications, and even feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for.
Factors that lead to caregiver burnout include role confusion, unrealistic expectations of yourself or others, lack of control, unreasonable demands and lack of caregiver education.
If you or a loved one has signs of caregiver burnout, please seek a support group or counselor as soon as possible. The snowball or domino effect of burnout can have many detrimental effects on care partners and their families.
If you would like a list of Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout, please contact us and we will send you this list, which we suggest you tape on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself of what to watch for.
Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.
For 24/7 hotline contact ww.alz.org