Caregiver burnout is when someone who cares for a person with a disability on a regular basis hits a point of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It’s a very real condition, and any caregiver is at risk if they aren’t proactive about preventing caregiver burnout. This includes parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDDs). It’s important that you can recognize the signs so you can focus on averting a crisis that interferes with your ability to provide the best care for your son or daughter.
So, take a look at the common signs of caregiver burnout below, and be vigilant about watching for them in yourself, your spouse or partner, and other loved ones who provide care. Also, remember that your loved ones may be able to spot concerns in your attitude or behavior more easily than you can, so always be willing to listen to them without getting defensive if they feel compelled to discuss these concerns with you.
Causes of Caregiver Burnout
The basic cause of caregiver burnout is unsuccessfully managing the stress that stems from providing constant care for someone with a disability. The situation invariably creates worry, anxiety, demands on the caregiver’s time and emotional availability, and many other sources of stress. Caregivers are prone to placing unrealistic expectations and unreasonable demands on themselves, and can feel like they have little control over their own lives. When all of this accumulates over time, and the caregiver neglects their own self-care, caregiver burnout is highly likely to result eventually.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
These are some of the most common signs of caregiver burnout to be on the lookout for. Of course, they can all point to other health concerns, but if you’re a caregiver who has been feeling the stress a lot lately and not paying attention to self-care, burnout is definitely a leading suspect.
- Excessive fatigue or low energy
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Never feeling well rested, no matter how much sleep you get
- Ongoing trouble concentrating
- Irritability or quickness to lose your temper
- Regularly overreacting to minor inconveniences or issues
- Mood swings
- Inability to relax
- Eating more or loss of appetite
- Increased drinking or smoking
- Neglecting your personal hygiene
- Loss of interest in caregiving responsibilities
- Social withdrawal from family and/or friends and activities you enjoy
- Getting sick more often
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Feelings of resentment toward the child you provide care for
- Feeling like your life is completely out of your control