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Signs a family caregiver is overwhelmed

According to Mayo Clinic, one out of every three people in this country act as informal caregivers to family members. Even if you or your family have not labeled the care in that manner, anyone who provides assistance to an ill or disabled family member regardless of age is a caretaker. Although experiencing stress is common, many individuals and their families fail to recognize the signs of caretaker burnout or distress.

Caretaker stress and burnout can affect the most resilient and organized people. No one is immune. The impacts of long term stress takes a toll on a caretaker’s physical, emotional and psychological health. Depression and anxiety is common, as is heart disease and diabetes.

Who is at risk?

Caretakers that live with a sick or disabled family member are at highest risk of burnout and stress. The following are also factors that increase the likelihood of burnout:

  • Pre-existing or current depression or anxiety
  • Financial struggles
  • Being the sole caregiver and having no choice in the matter; limited support network
  • Lack of resources for help
  • Limited problem solving and coping skills
  • High levels of care and long hours spent providing it
  • Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Caretakers suffering from a chronic illness of their own
  • People who work outside the home and provide care
  • Personality characteristics that result in the caretaker rarely asking for help or find it uncomfortable to do so

If you have a caregiver in the family or are one yourself that constantly feels overwhelmed, worried, tired, easily irritated, sad, have no interest in hobbies or other activities in addition to suffering from frequent bodily aches, lack of sleep, or uncharacteristic weight loss or gain, then burnout is likely to blame. It is important to reach out and find resources in your community to assist the caretaker before the stress creates serious problems.

Caregiver Stress can escalate to distress

Caregiver stress can escalate to caregiver distress, which causes long term health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, or lung and heart problems. The website www.caregiverstress.com has a Family Caregiver Distress Assessment Tool with questions the caretaker in your family can answer to evaluate their stress levels. It also provides caregiver resources that your family may find useful.

Regardless of the situation, caregiver burnout, stress, and distress are all serious concerns that should not be taken lightly. Caring for the sick and disabled is challenging and stressful for all.

 

 

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