You know that being a caregiver can be a stressful experience and you may have started noticing the signs of this stress early in your care relationship. Now that you are further along in your care experience, however, could this stress have gone a step further and turned into caregiver burnout? Understanding this important differentiation and being able to detect if you are suffering from burnout is a vital aspect of protecting yourself as well as guarding the care relationship that you have with your elderly parent.
Burnout occurs when your emotional and mental response to a difficult situation has gone beyond stress to a completely overtaxed level. When this occurs your mind can “shut off”, causing you to disengage from the situation. When you are a caregiver this can mean that you no longer feel the compulsion or need to fulfill your parent’s needs, or no longer care about what they are going through and what you can do to help them handle it. This can put your aging parent at serious risk and cause major rifts in your relationship with them. If you continue to push yourself through this sense of burnout then you can be at serious risk of emotional, mental, and even physical consequences yourself.
Some signs that you may be suffering from caregiver burnout include:
Feeling helpless. Stress often makes you feel more empowered to push yourself and achieve more. When this reaches burnout, however, you could feel helpless and incapable of surmounting any of the challenges that are before you. This is an upsetting and frightening place to be.
A sense of fatigue. Being tired is normal when you are a caregiver, especially if you are a caregiver in the sandwich generation and taking care of your children at the same time as your elderly loved one. If you are feeling constantly fatigued no matter what you do or how much sleep you get, however, it could go beyond just the stresses of your care tasks and be a symptom of mental burnout.
Decreased interest.Some people describe burnout as a sense of “nothingness”. Rather than feeling frantic and wanting to accomplish everything that is on your to-do list, you feel a sense of complacency and decreased interest in anything. You no longer care about the things that mattered most to you, and do not feel the urge to put forth the effort necessary to fulfill your goals or obligations.
Decreased productivity. A burned-out mind cannot handle as much as a healthier, even stressed mind. You will not be able to think as clearly or do as much in the same amount of time. You may notice that even if you feel like you are working hard you are not as able to be as productive as you used to be, and need to be.
Increased use of substances such as caffeine. As you start to feel the effects of burnout it is easy to want to compensate for them with stimulants or other substances such as alcohol or tobacco. This might make you feel better in the moment, but can have lasting negative consequences for your body and care efforts.
Belina Calderon-Nernberg is the CEO and founder of 1Heart Caregiver Services. Recently offering 1Heart franchise business opportunities to the public, Belina provided the vision, leadership, and direction that the company needed to achieve its goal of making a positive difference in the homecare industry. As her greatest accomplishment, the company is now equipped with the expertise to expand its business operations to different States in the U.S. Belina brings with her a corporate experience of 25 years, with 15 solid years of experience as CEO of an employment agency and a senior care service company in Southern California. Belina has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of St. La Salle, Philippines. She has been the recipient of several awards given to emerging leaders in business, community service, arts, and entertainment. She has also been honored as an Ambassador of Goodwill by the HiFi (Historic Filipinotown) Neighborhood Council. This title is bestowed to carefully selected Filipino-Americans who are persons of integrity who have the ability “to promote, reach out, influence and mobilize public interest and support of the ideals, values, principles, and programs of the Historic Filipinotown.
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