There may be no harder job than providing care for others. Although rewarding, it can take a toll both physically and emotionally.
It can also make the individual a candidate for caregiver burnout.
Those who are drawn to this vocation work hard to make a difference. But there is seldom a finish line with caring. Those you help today will likely need your help again tomorrow.
And when many caregivers return home, there may be others who rely on their attention as well.
What is caregiver burnout?
Defined as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, caregiver burnout can happen when watching over a loved one at home or to those who provide care professionally.
Unfortunately, a trait many caregivers share is neglecting to take care of themselves. They may not prioritize their own needs until they begin experiencing detrimental warning signs.
Factors leading to caregiver burnout
There are a few common causes that can trigger feelings of burnout, including the following:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Lack of control
- Unreasonable demands
- Lack of resources
- Too many responsibilities to handle
Signs of caregiver burnout
The following signs may be present if you’re beginning to experience caregiver or occupational burnout:
- Physical symptoms of burnout
You may notice you’re feeling fatigued or more tired, even after getting a good night’s sleep. You might begin developing headaches or stomach aches. Your appetite may be changing, causing you to gain or lose weight.
- Mental symptoms of burnout
You may notice yourself dreading going to work and finding it harder to face the residents, feeling that many don’t appreciate what you do or ever seem happy. You might not even enjoy your days off because you’re dreading going back to work.
- Emotional symptoms of burnout
It’s not uncommon to begin feeling underappreciated and overworked. You may wonder if anyone values the work, time and effort you put in, including those you care for and work under. Work that you once enjoyed may now feel more like a burden.
Source: CNA Plus Academy
Steps to help yourself
If you begin experiencing some of the symptoms of caregiver burnout, take action. The situation will not simply go away or improve on its own.
The best place to start is to make sure you are doing everything you can to take care of your own health. Commit to getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
The next step is to be honest with yourself about the stress of the work that you do and the limits of what you can provide. If you struggle with either, discuss with your supervisor or schedule time to talk to a professional for help in developing coping skills.
Consider these additional suggestions if you’re suffering from caregiver burnout:
- Think of yourself
Are you working extra shifts or feel that you’re taking on more than your fair share of work? It may be time to have an honest assessment of your workday, what you can realistically accomplish and consider if something needs to change.
- Keep a work journal
It only takes a few minutes, but each workday jot down three things you did that helped a resident feel better or made a difference in someone’s life. It’s easy to lose sight of how important your work is.
- Look for patterns
It helps to understand what triggers you may have. Once recognized, you may then be able to plan for them, including your responses. You might see a pattern and discover it’s a certain task or personality that generates the stressful reaction.
- Consider if it’s time for a change
If you can’t seem to turn the corner on avoiding caregiver burnout, it may indeed be time for a change. However, you want to make sure you don’t end up in the same situation but only in a different community. Consider if you need to shift to caring for a different type of resident or setting – or if you’d like to receive more specialized training to work at the next level.
Source: CNA Plus Academy
How to avoid burnout
Like many situations in life, prevention is the best course of action. Along with taking care of yourself, make it a priority to take the following actions:
- Maintain a balance between your personal and work life
- Ask for help and support if needed
- Spend quality time with family and friends
- Find someone with whom you can share your daily frustrations and success stories
- Work for communities and organizations that provide supportive resources
Joining the team at Sinceri Senior Living
Sinceri Senior Living specializes in independent living, assisted living and memory care, fostering deep bonds between those who live and work in our communities – just like families.
We extend our commitment in creating this welcoming environment to our employees who form strong relationships with the residents and their coworkers. In fact, many of our team members think of the community they work in as their second home because of such strong connections.
The caregiver’s role is to first make our residents feel safe and secure. We strive to ensure everyone we hire is generous, compassionate and as committed as we are to provide excellent service at every opportunity.
We understand the stress that caregivers can experience and the challenge in trying to stay one step ahead of what a resident or family member might need or desire. We fully support their efforts as it truly takes a team to provide quality senior care.
If you’re interested in becoming a care partner with Sinceri Senior Living as we strive together to exceed expectations, we hope you’ll be in touch.
We also invite you to download our complimentary guide, Simple Self-Care for Caregivers and CNAs: 6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself so You can Care for Others, which includes helpful tips and steps you might try