Research has shown that roughly 80% of long-term care in this country is provided by family members. Many of these caregivers have their own families to look after and may also be holding down at least one job.
In addition, family caregivers have been shown to ignore their own health and wellness needs. This often leads to caregiver burnout, which is typically defined as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Caregivers who reach this burnout stage often experience stress, fatigue, sadness, grief, isolation guilt, anxiety, and depression. Some other symptoms of caregiver burnout include:
- Withdrawing from others
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Feeling irritable and helpless
- Changes in appetite, weight, or both
- Changes in sleep
- Compromised immune system
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
Causes of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers become easily lost in the person they are caring for and forget that they themselves have needs and wants. Being so busy, they, often without thought, neglect their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.
They also deal with huge challenges and emotions each day, and often without help from anyone else. They push their feelings down so they may remain strong for their loved one who is usually battling a significant health crisis of their own.
Counseling Can Be a Lifesaver for Caregivers
Struggling on your own won’t help you or your loved one. It’s important that you get the help you need and deserve.
Talking with someone who will listen compassionately and give you advice and coping tools can take a huge burden off your shoulders. But perhaps most importantly, a therapist will validate what you are experiencing. This is helpful because you yourself are denying your own existence and your own pain. This is how you have been managing.
A therapist is in your corner. He or she is your champion and will say the things you won’t allow yourself to say. They will point out your own humanity and the need for you to take care of yourself. Hearing this from a neutral third party can often be very helpful.
If you would like to speak with someone, please reach out to me. I want to help you not feel so powerless or isolated.