The number of people serving as caregivers has exploded in recent years, and according to PR Newswire the number of caregivers now tops 65 million people (29% of the population of the US.) This includes people providing care for elderly adults, special needs children, young adults with disabilities, and more. These caregivers are people who offer their time, energy and financial support to ensure that their loved one—parent, child, sibling, grandparent—lives a life of joy and comfort. It is admirable and often selfless work… and it can take its toll on the caregiver.
Many caregivers are working so hard to take care of everyone around them that they forget to take care of themselves. Their health will often suffer, their financial security goes untended, and their own social interactions fall by the wayside. All of this can quickly lead to one thing: Caregiver Burnout.
Although we don’t hear much about it, Caregiver Burnout is a very real phenomenon. Described as similar to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Cargiver Burnout can cause depression, withdrawal from society, self-neglect, erratic behavior, and at its worst—suicidal tendencies.
But there are ways to combat the onset of Caregiver Burnout. HelpGuide.org provides an entire section on how to recognize and prevent Caregiver Burnout, including tips for family caregivers and a list of some of the warning signs of Caregiver burnout. And that’s not all, this article in PR Newswire offers 10 steps caregivers can take to ensure they take care of themselves financially.
If you are the caregiver in your family it is essential that you (and your fellow family members) recognize the difficulty of the work you do. Be aware of your limits, respect them, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Caring for yourself isn’t the selfish thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.