Caregiver Burnout: The Causes and the Cures

In the world of caregiving, there is something always lurking at our periphery. It’s the thing that many talk around, but no one truly wants to talk about. Its name is burnout, and we should all be a little more open about its reality.

For caregivers, familiarizing yourself with the causes of burnout can help protect yourself from succumbing to it. That being said, here are some of the common causes of caregiver burnout.

Unrealistic Expectations of Self

When it comes to our loved ones, we want to deliver them the moon on a string. We think that we can and should be able to do it all. We can get mom to all the doctor’s appointments, cook three healthy meals from scratch, and still have time to walk the therapy dog!

Although these self-expectations are admirable, they probably aren’t all achievable. Overscheduling past your own capabilities is more likely to cause burnout.

Remember, although we may feel super heroic, we aren’t superheroes. Overextending yourself will place emphasis on “shortcomings,” instead of all the amazing things that you can and are doing on a daily basis!

Confusion of Roles

One of the main causes of burnout spans from the confusion of roles. For many, the role of caregiver can feel as though it has been quickly thrust upon you. There are medical terms to familiarize yourself with, procedures to learn, and a whole new way of life to build. This transitional period is so fast, and can cause any role discussion to fall to the wayside.

Thus, without a clear delineation of the role, the line between caregiver and spouse can become blurred. This confusion and blending of roles can cause anxiety and unnecessary stress. If roles are not fully structured, this can lead to burnout.

Not Reaping Emotional “Rewards”

For many caregivers, burnout can be traced to the idea that caregiving will yield constant emotional gratitude from the patient. Although this is possible, it is somewhat unlikely if you are caring for someone with a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

While you may receive a “thank you” every now and again, it’s not going to be a constant loop of gratitude!

The best way to combat this form of burnout is to diversify where you glean your emotional rewards. For example, time with a loved one or an online support group are great outlets to feed your emotional needs. Something else to consider is potentially seeking the assistance of a home care nurse to help relieve some of your duties. These nurses are specially trained in different areas of care and can help you and your loved one.