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The focus of family caregivers is to take great care of a loved one. However, as time goes on, a caregiver's energy, productivity and even motivation can wane...though not intentionally.
Burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Every day is a bad day. The exhaustion leads to the caregiver feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet the relentless demands on them. Without realizing it, they can appear cynical, hopeless, and even resentful. In fact, from 40-70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.
The amount of care needed is not the only factor leading to burnout. A person's lifestyle and personality traits also come into play. So it could be that a "do it all myself" caregiver will have to learn to delegate work to others, and then find ways to relax (or not worry) during that time.
Burnout builds over time. Here are some red flags for caregivers to watch out for.
The symptoms of burnout usually get worse, if left alone. Trying to push through and continue without change will usually lead to more physical and emotional damage. The National Family Caregivers Assn. recommends three steps for stemming the tide and recovering from burnout.