Avoiding Caregiver Burnout: Support is Available for Family Caregivers

Helping elders find ways to pay for in-home care and stay at home for as long as possible is one of the cornerstones of my practice.  Now, I’d like to discuss resources available to family caregivers themselves.
Caring for a family member can be rewarding, but there’s nothing easy about it—hence the term caregiver burnout.  Signs that you may be approaching burnout include:

  • Feeling exhausted most of the time.
  • Feeling like the most important thing in your life is caregiving but you don’t derive any satisfaction from it.
  • Becoming increasingly impatient with the loved one for whom you are providing care.
  • Frequently feeling helpless, and sometimes, even hopeless.

If you are experiencing feelings like these, and you didn’t feel this way until you began serving as a family caregiver, you may be approaching burnout.

So, what can you do about it?  First, you must understand that your feelings are not unusual.  Caregiver burnout is more common than you might think.  Here are some steps you can take if you believe you might be suffering from caregiver burnout:

  • Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s illness and how to care for it.
  • Recognize your limits.  Take a realistic approach to how much time and effort you can give your loved one. 
  • Talk to me for resources – part of my role is to find the other people and services who can carry some of your burden.
  • Learn to accept how you feel about the responsibilities of being a caregiver.  Anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, grief—all of these emotions are commonly experienced by caregivers.
  • Talk to people about your feelings.  Confiding in friends and family members can provide a sense of relief and help you overcome feelings of isolation.
  • Join a support group.

South Shore Elder Services maintains a list of local support groups.  You can call the main number at 781.848.3910 and ask for the Caregiver Support Program.  Or visit them here.
If you live elsewhere in Massachusetts, find your local Caregiver Support Program here.
AARP also provides a wealth of valuable information about caregiver support here.
And, as always, I’m here to help in any way I can.
Until next time, take care….