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Recognizing the Stages of Caregiver Burnout: When Caring for a Loved One Becomes Too Much

Caring for an elderly parent or loved one can be a rewarding yet challenging experience. 

To provide the best possible care for your loved one, you must remember to care for yourself, too, or you could begin to feel symptoms of caregiver burnout.

It can sometimes feel necessary to push through feelings of burnout, but over time, these symptoms can build and become too overwhelming.

Recognizing the stages of caregiver burnout can help you regain control and find the best solutions for you and your loved one. 

Read on to learn the stages of caregiver burnout and how you can navigate these challenges — especially during the holiday season.

How to Navigate the Holidays as a Caregiver

The holidays can add extra stress to those caring for a loved one. It can be especially difficult for loved ones experiencing the onset of memory loss.

How can you, as their caregiver, help communicate their needs with family as well as your own needs?

The Kensington Redondo Beach understands the unique challenges caregivers face during the holidays. That’s why we recently hosted an interactive panel discussion with experts Dr. Marsha Nelson and Alison Moritz, who provided guidance for families.

Questions addressed during the event included:

  • What is the best way to decline a holiday invitation?
  • How much should I say about my significant other’s medical condition?
  • Where can I get some tools to deal with my emotions such as grief, loneliness, sadness?

The speakers provided creative and effective ways to handle family logistics, travel, and other holiday stressors. 

In case you missed it, the event recording is available to interested caregivers. 

The Kensington Redondo Beach hosts numerous events centered on caregiver support, healthy lifestyles, and educating our community.

How to Identify the Stages of Caregiver Burnout

While there are many signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout, there are three main stages you may move through. Recognizing these stages can help you take back control earlier instead of waiting until things have progressed.

However, no matter where you are in the stages of caregiver burnout, there is always time to begin self care and get back to feeling like yourself.

Stage 1: Stress and Frustration

Caregiver stress and frustration can have many causes, including frustration at your loved one’s worsening condition or lack of help from family.

Watch for these signs of stress and frustration such as:

  • Quick to anger or irritation
  • Constantly worried and overwhelmed
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Teeth grinding
  • High blood pressure
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Frequent headaches, pain, or aches

If you begin to notice these symptoms, take some time to write about your struggles, pinpoint areas you need help, and begin to ask for it. 

Understanding your limits is important to help you confidently and clearly ask others for support.

If you don’t address the root cause of your stress, you can quickly move into the next stage of burnout: loneliness and isolation.

Stage 2: Loneliness and Isolation

The second stage of caregiver burnout can find you withdrawing from friends and loved ones. 

You may feel underappreciated and misunderstood, and struggle to find a sense of purpose in your care. At this point, it can be difficult or feel impossible to ask for help.

In this stage, watch for these symptoms:

  • Procrastination
  • Lateness (to work or other activities)
  • Fatigue
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Feeling alienated from others
  • Losing touch with friends and family
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Emotionally withdrawing
  • Apathy and lack of compassion

Since it feels difficult to ask for help yet you are struggling deeply, refusing to get help for yourself at this stage can lead to feelings of despair and an inability to feel compassion toward your loved one or others.

If you begin to notice symptoms of loneliness and isolation, start with the basics. Add in healthy foods, regular movement, and personal stress relief tactics. This can include yoga, meditation, or prayer.

Implementing your self-care basics can help you find the strength and courage to ask for the help you need.

Stage 3: Despair and Compassion Fatigue

Unfortunately, sometimes caregivers don’t recognize a real problem in themselves until it gets to this stage of burnout.

Watch for these signs of despair and compassion fatigue:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Hopelessness
  • Chronic pain or other health issues
  • Avoiding friends, family, and social activity
  • Lack of patience
  • Angry or emotional outbursts
  • Weakened level of empathy for loved one

At this stage, caregivers lose their ability to effectively care for a loved one. Since you are unable to cope or care for yourself, you can’t be your best self for a loved one in your care.

To avoid reaching this stage of caregiver burnout, pay attention to feelings of exhaustion and intense emotion. These are warning signs your body is giving you to seek help.

If you don’t have access to the proper support in your group of friends and family, it may be time to seek outside help such as in-home medical professionals or a loving assisted living community.

How to Find the Right Community for a Loved One

If you’re unable to provide the care your loved one needs, this does not mean you have failed. In fact, finding the right assisted living community for your loved one is sometimes the most selfless act you can perform for them.

The right assisted living community is able to provide the proper level of care at every stage of life. They have the tools, equipment, and professionals onsite to offer a full spectrum of clinical support.

The Kensington Redondo Beach offers everything from wellness and rehabilitation services to advanced memory care and end-of-life care. No matter the level of support your loved one needs, they will always have a home with us.

Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We are a community of loving professionals dedicated to the comfort and happiness of your loved one.Contact us today to meet our team and tell us about your loved one’s unique needs and preferences.