Caregiving and the Burden

A high level of stress may be experienced by people who are caring for another person (usually a family member) with some kind of long-term illness. For example, a person caring for someone with a chronic illness may experience such stressors as financial strain, managing the person’s symptoms, dealing with crises, the loss of friends, or the loss of intimacy


Caregiver Burnout:


Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.


Caregivers who are under stress are likely to feel:

  • Trapped and helpless
  • Tense and unhappy almost every day
  • Unable to face the day
  • Unable to sleep or the need to sleep much more
  • Angry, but guilty because you know you shouldn’t be
  • There’s no one to turn to for help or don’t know whom to turn to
  • Unable to carry on
  • Guilty for not being able to focus on their professional or personal lives
  • Inadequate and depressed because they’re not able to help their loved ones

(- Compiled by Ekta Hattangady)


What Causes Caregiver Burnout?

Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical, and spiritual health. The demands on a caregiver’s body, mind, and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness — and, ultimately, burnout. Other factors that can lead to caregiver burnout include:

  • Role confusion — Many people are confused when thrust into the role of caregiver. It can be difficult for a person to separate her role as caregiver from her role as spouse, lover, child, friend, etc.
  • Unrealistic expectations — Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the patient. This may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
  • Lack of control — Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one’s care.
  • Unreasonable demands — Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens upon themselves, in part because they see providing care as their exclusive responsibility.
  • Other factors — Many caregivers cannot recognize when they are suffering burnout and eventually get to the point where they cannot function effectively. They may even become sick themselves.
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