How many times have we been ready to throw in the towel, or felt overwhelmed, overloaded and under appreciated? More than once, I’ll bet, in our caregiving journey.
Caregivers get so very good at living with day-to-day stress that they often don’t realize that “they’re up the creek without a paddle” … until it’s too late. Sometimes it’s a husband who’s caring for his wife who has dementia. It might be a daughter caring for a frail mum, or perhaps a parent looking after an older child with a disability. Regardless of the circumstances, many of us who care are at risk of developing both physical and mental health problems.
In a recent article in Mind Over Matter (a fabulous resource put out by the Women’s Brain Institute), I found a series of fabulous tips to help family members and others recognize if and when a caregiver is burning out. Please use these and share them when the time is right:
Caregiver superheroes – These people try to do everything themselves, without giving themselves a proper break. When you ask if you can help with something, there is always some reason why they have to handle it themselves.
Bugs are catching up with them – Colds, flus, illnesses that come more often and stick around too long: All are signs that the caregiver is getting run down. Caregiving is taking a toll on their immune system. Have you heard from them? – It is all too common for primary caregivers to lose touch with other family members and friends. Caregiving becomes an all-consuming task, leaving them feeling isolated.
Joyless glasses of wine – If you notice that a caregiver in your circle is drinking or smoking more than usual, or using drugs in a way not prescribed by their doctor, that’s a sign that they are not coping well.
They’re just not themselves – As caregiver stress takes hold, a caregiver might have mood swings, furious one minute and despairing the next. Listen for expressions of anxiety, depression or feeling overwhelmed.
Brain fog is creeping in – If a caregiver seems unfocused, can’t concentrate and has difficulty problem solving, that’s a sign that they are burning out.