There’s no question that you want to be there for your loved one when they need your help, but the truth is, caregiver burnout can affect family relationships. It’s important to know that needing help or considering respite care to help you manage your loved one’s needs doesn’t make you a bad caregiver
Caregiver Burnout Statistics
When you have a family and a job, adding on the responsibility of caring for a senior loved one is like taking on another job. In fact, according to the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, the average family caregiver spends 20 per week taking care of a loved one.
In addition, 13% of family caregivers spend 40 or more hours each week caring for a loved one. This is on top of all of their other responsibilities and work outside of the home.
Finally, 29% of the United States’ population — that’s 65 million people — care for an older senior family member or a disabled or chronically ill family member or even friend each year.
Caregiver Family Problems
Devoting so much time to caring for a loved one can create problems in the family. It’s not unusual to feel some resentment towards the person you’re caring for. This often leads to feelings of guilt, as well.
It’s easy to feel torn between wanting to help and family duty and feeling as if your life is passing you by.
Also, when one family member is the primary caregiver, resentments can arise between siblings when the primary caregiver feels as if others are not doing their part. This resentment can grow as time goes on, and you see that your siblings are living a “normal” life while you are spending all of your free time taking care of Mom or Dad.
One major issue of being a full-time (or even part-time) caregiver is that there is no time left in the day for a social life. When you are working outside the home and then spend the rest of your time caring for a loved one, you’re lucky to find time to eat and sleep.
This lack of a social life has been shown to lead to depression. Even your immune system can take a hit. For those family caregivers who have cared for loved ones for five years or longer, they report their own health is only fair to poor.
Caregiving also comes with what is called caregiver stress. This stress is then taken out on those around you causing even more issues within the family. Chances are, when you are spending your time caring for someone else, you don’t take the time to take care of yourself.
Tips for Coping with Caregiver Burnout
If you feel burned out from caring for a loved one, there are ways to help manage those feelings.
- Dealing with anger – Give yourself a time out and learn to forgive yourself. Find a support group to talk to.
- Dealing with anxiety – Don’t try to ignore it. Instead, take the time to stop and take a break to step outside of the situation causing the feeling.
- Get outside help – There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. Consider getting respite care to help relieve some of your stress and burnout.
Taking care of a loved one can be quite rewarding, but it comes with its share of stress as well. Be sure to take some time for yourself and both you and your loved one, and your family will be better off for it.