Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be extremely taxing, both emotionally and physically, and burnout is a common repercussion for family caregivers. Learn the warning signs and how to find the help that you need to manage feelings of Alzheimer’s caregiver burnout.
- Approximately 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Over 80% of individuals with Alzheimer’s receive care in their own homes.
- Unpaid family members or friends provide the majority of caregiving for older adults with Alzheimer’s.
- About two-thirds of the family caregivers are women.
- One-third of caregivers are 65 or older.
- One-quarter of caregivers, the “sandwich generation,” are caring for an aging parent with dementia as well as children under the age of 18.
Family members providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia often provide care for a longer period of time than people caring for individuals with other conditions. It is a substantial emotional and physical commitment to provide care for such a long duration, especially while the loved one progresses through the stages of Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the daily stressors of caregiving and managing the behaviors associated with dementia, a family caregiver also faces other issues. The caregiver’s responsibilities will continue to change and become more demanding as additional care is needed. The caregiver also endures the emotional toil of watching a loved one struggle with diminishing abilities. Further fears and painful emotions arise if the caregiver has to consider relocating the individual to a care facility or to plan for end-of-life care.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
It’s common to feel a wide range of emotions when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The responsibilities of caregiving certainly can feel overwhelming and stressful. When those feelings persist on a regular basis, they may be signs of caregiver burnout, a state of being exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you’re frequently noticing any of the following signs, it may be time to ask for help:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Anger, frustration, or guilt
- Sadness or depression
- Dissatisfaction with your life and caregiving responsibilities
- Feeling more irritable and stressed
- Having trouble sleeping, eating, and finding time for self-care
- Having trouble focusing on tasks or appointments
- Getting sick more often
- Withdrawing from people or activities you enjoy doing
Help for Alzheimer’s Caregiver Burnout
When providing care for a loved one, it may feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster, full of ups and downs. The following steps may make the journey a little easier:
- Understand the disease. With a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s, your caregiving responsibilities may change over time. Learning what you can about the disease and the needs of your loved one will help you feel more prepared at each stage.
- Have realistic goals. It’s important to set realistic goals about what you can manage in a day and to recognize when you might need help.
- Find support. Reach out to a family member, friend, or support group to talk about your feelings. Talking with a professional, such as a therapist or social worker, can also help because these individuals are trained to counsel people experiencing emotional issues.
- Practice self-care. When caring for someone else, it’s easy to forget to take care of the caregiver too. Even setting aside an hour or two for yourself to have a change of scenery, practice a hobby you enjoy, visit friends, exercise, or have a nice meal can be beneficial.
- Accept your feelings. It’s natural to have a variety of feelings, even negative ones, about your caregiving experience. These feelings do not mean that you are a bad caregiver or that you don’t care about your loved one. It’s beneficial to monitor your feelings, however, to notice if they occur more frequently and indicate a need for assistance.
- Use respite services. A professional caregiving agency, such as Abrio Home Care, can provide a temporary break for family caregivers.
If you are feeling any of these signs of Alzheimer’s caregiver burnout, know that help is available. Abrio Home Care’s compassionate caregivers can provide respite care to allow you some time to rest and recharge. We also offer a variety of customizable in-home care services specifically tailored to your needs and the needs of your loved one. We would love to speak with you and encourage you to contact us any time at 877-71-ABRIO or online to learn more about our elder care in Phoenix and many other communities throughout the state of Arizona.