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Caregiver Burnout

Updated on September 17, 2016
Caregiving touches on every aspect of life
Caregiving touches on every aspect of life | Source

What causes Caregiver Burnout ?

Caregivers are a special group of people. They seem to have the capacity for caring even though it may be a risk to their personal health. Sound familiar? Anyone who has been a caregiver knows it is a 24/7 job. And frequently there is no one else to step up and take over even for just a short time. And yet the financial situation many times decrees how a family will make the decision.

The caregiver position falls to the family members. Most families have someone who just seems to be there when a caregiver is needed. This is a person who does not seem to have the word ‘No’ in their vocabulary. This quality would be OK if all family members would help and be involved as best possible. This rarely happens partly due to geographic limitations, lack of ability to know what it takes to help and partly because of family issues.

Caregivers may be new to the person in need or has been a member of the family for many years and now called upon to step-up. Whatever the position within the family no one seems to have the knowledge to address many or all of the issues now to be undertaken. When the caregiver is a paid professional there is more chance for a Respite. And they usually have a schedule providing them a chance to leave this caregiving role and go home at the end of the shift. Frequently this break is not possible when the caregiver is a family member. The perception is when the caregiver is a family member, everyone (including the family caregiver) tend to expect more. One caregiver may be expected to spend the night, do all transportation, know all medications and fill them and dispense them to the person and provide house cleaning. There is in this role a requirement to perform ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) such as bathing, fixing meals, laundry, house cleaning and so forth. And each of the ADL’s comes with its own set of expectations. Bathing needs can be anywhere on a curve of simple direction to physically helping the person bathing. Frequently this is the person who is expected to determine the need for remodel of the bathroom or prepare all meals and much more.

When the family caregiver is expected to direct personal grooming or to actually do the bathing due to the frailty of person. There is a new set of boundaries to have in place. All caregivers, whether family or professional, seem to suffer from one thing. Caregiver Burnout! We can help with only so many needs and watch over a person and meet all care needs. There is a difficult balancing act of maintaining the person's autonomy and keeping them safe. So why are all caregivers affected by Burnout?

Caregiving tasks that will impact burnout

Caregiving is a job performed in thousands of homes across the country. One would expect substantial thought and development of necessary educational and physical tools to manage this. The questions and education are especially important in light of the specific numbers of our population who are aging. This is not a problem that can be fixed with the next best technological tool or toy. Yes some of us may know where the answers where to get the information. This knowledge does not make the decisions necessary in caregiving any easier.

Caregiver burnout can only be as good as when we start practicing good self-care and how often we use it. We might look at it as the caregiver and the person needing care are on the same path. When one begins to show stress, the other person requiring care may start to fail. This is the preverbal snowball. And it can happen in one day into the care or one year into the care. Caregiver burnout is more prevalent than families know.


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    • MGWriter profile image

      Marsha Caldwell 17 months ago from Western Washington State

      This is a prevalent case. People don't have the time to consider the options available to them. Truthfully it can be difficult for anyone, surprising as it maybe some the highest profile in this are doctors and nurses. I know for myself I moved home to help out and then it became overpowering to meet the needs of him as well as my young family. thank you for sharing with me.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 17 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      We experienced this in our family before the death of my Father-in-Law. His oldest daughter wanted to take on the care-giver role in order to allow her father to remain in his own home. It lasted about a year and then his health went downhill and she left her post without making arrangements for his care. He ended up in the hospital and the family had to scramble when it was time for him to go home. Thankfully, he had friends who stepped forward to stay with him until arrangements were made.