Every caregiver is at risk for burnout. However, those caring for loved ones with dementia are particularly susceptible.
Most of the time, dementia caregiver burnout is a slow progression, easily missed in real-time. Without adequate support and dedication to a self-care routine, it’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience serious illness, physical decline, or injuries or to become overwhelmed by depression and feelings of hopelessness.
If you take care of someone with dementia, make sure to prioritize self-care, stress management, and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Keep reading to learn about dementia caregiver burnout.
Signs of Caregiver Fatigue Leading to Burnout
The following are some of the “red flags” that can indicate dementia caregiver fatigue. If any of them resonate with you, it’s a sign that it’s time to enlist memory care support.
1. Your Life Lacks Joy
When the overwhelm of caregiving is greater than the joy you find in day-to-day life, it’s a sign you need help.
Caregivers often believe their feelings of depression or hopelessness are primarily due to experiencing their loved one’s mental and physical decline. While this is undoubtedly true, it’s easy to miss the fact that your exhaustion, mental fatigue, and the physical demands of caregiving may also be causing you to experience depression.
If you wake up with more dread or anxiety than joy in your heart, begin exploring support options.
2. You’re Tired All the Time
Family caregivers often work 24/7, with few or no chances to take a break. And, to make matters worse, the combinations of sundowning, a loved one’s insomnia or nighttime wakefulness, and fear for the safety of your spouse or family member make it impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleeplessness and constant fatigue are clear signs more support is needed.
3. Lack of Appetite, Overeating, or Poor Eating Habits
Caring for a loved one with dementia can cause you to lose track of time making it difficult to adhere to a daily schedule. And your diet can be impacted.
When providing care, it can be easy to skip meals or just snack on processed food that lacks nourishment. Furthermore, the stress and anxiety inherent in dementia caregiving can diminish the appetite, further depleting access to much-needed nourishment.
If you don’t have time to shop, cook, or prepare meals, connect with family, friends, a religious or spiritual community, etc., and ask for support. Dropping off meals, running errands, or sending gift cards to be used for to-go orders and deliveries is an easy way for those who love you to support the cause.
Professional caregiving agencies also offer grocery shopping, meal preparation, and other services that alleviate your need to complete daily tasks.
4. Difficulty Concentrating or Perpetual Mental Fogginess
Have you reached a point where your thought processes aren’t what they used to be? Are you having trouble concentrating, remembering things, or keeping the days, dates, and times straight? Has your loved one missed a medication dose or a necessary appointment because your mental fog got in the way?
This is another all-too-common sign of being overwhelmed. Your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your loved one depends on your ability to nourish your body, mind, and spirit so that you can rejuvenate and reclaim your former clarity.
5. Quick to Anger or Feeling Frustrated or Irritated
Does your fuse seem significantly shorter than usual? That’s normal. You’re under a tremendous amount of stress, and when you look at all caregivers handle daily, it’s no wonder you’re quick to anger or feel frustrated or irritated.
Unfortunately, left unaddressed, these pent-up feelings can mean you experience verbal outbursts directed at the one you love, and this creates a bleak cycle of regret, shame, and self-judgment. It also means your loved one suffers unintentionally.
While occasional anger, frustration, irritation, or feelings of resentment are not necessarily a sign of burnout, they shouldn’t become the standard. If these feelings have become a regular part of your emotional landscape, you’re at the end of your dementia caregiver burnout rope. It’s time to take a much-deserved break.
Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress & Burnout
Serving as a caregiver doesn’t mean you stop caring for yourself! Here are some tips for managing stress and avoiding dementia caregiver burnout.
- Connect with dementia-related resources and support groups.
- Reach out to trusted neighbors, friends, family members, etc., to provide regular respite care so you can take care of yourself.
- Keep the house stocked with healthy foods and snacks, so everything you eat nourishes and supports your physical wellbeing.
- Locate adult daycare and professional respite care options in your area.
- Learn more about the cost of memory care and how to pay for it to create a long-term plan that encompasses your needs as well as the needs of your loved one.
Most importantly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Sometimes asking is all it takes.
Manage Dementia Caregiver Burnout With the Memory Center
Dementia caregiving is a journey, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Please schedule an appointment with The Memory Center to learn more about our daytime and residential memory care options, in addition to other essential community resources to prevent caregiver dementia burnout.
As a caregiver, you may also be worrying about finances. There are payment options to help you cover the cost of dementia care. Learn more by clicking below.