Whether you are a family member or a professional caregiver, the risk of caregiver burnout is high when caring for a senior or disabled patient. But what is caregiver burnout, and why is it so dangerous? Below, we dive into everything you need to know about caregiver burnout and how to prevent this frightening phenomenon.
At Premier Home Care, we hold our caregivers in the highest regard and believe it is our responsibility to keep them safe. Providing a healthy work/life balance and ongoing training and support mitigates our staff’s risk of becoming overwhelmed and burnt out. Please apply here if you are looking for a thriving career in the senior healthcare industry. Premier Home Care is located in Huntingdon, PA, and covers the greater five counties surrounding Philadelphia.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a condition that caregivers experience when they cannot cope with the stress and physical demands of caring for another person. Caregiver burnout can be caused by various factors, including lack of sleep, overworked hours, inadequate mental health care, insufficient emotional support, and uncooperative patients. Regardless of the reason, caregiver burnout takes a toll on the caregiver’s mental and physical health, causing a noticeable decline over time.
Caregiver Burnout Symptoms
Caregiver burnout can lead to numerous negative consequences for the caregiver, including depression, anxiety, decreased job satisfaction and performance, increased absenteeism, and decreased socialization with friends or family members. Caregivers who experience caregiver burnout may also neglect their own physical needs, such as eating healthy foods or getting enough exercise.
It is important to note that caregiver burnout is not an immediate phenomenon but evolves over time, making it hard to identify for family members, coworkers, and friends. Symptoms are often not explicit until the caregiver is in the depths of burnout and requires emotional and mental support.
Why is Caregiver Burnout So Dangerous?
The primary risk of caregiver burnout is eventual neglect and apathy toward the patient. Overly stressed caregivers are more likely to make harmful mistakes and oversights affecting the patient. Even more alarming is the correlation between caregiver burnout and elder abuse. Burnout caregivers, especially family caregivers, tend to project their stress back on the patient through verbal and physical abuse. Unfortunately, many occurrences of elder abuse go undetected and unreported.
It’s not only the patient who suffers but also the caregiver. Overworked caregivers are often isolated from their friends and family for extended periods of time, resulting in social isolation and depression. Further, burnout caregivers have little time for themselves, thus neglecting their mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep, insufficient exercise, poor eating habits, and substance become common habits among burnout caregivers. Eventually, the burnout caregiver becomes a shell of themself and requires immediate mental and emotional support. They also must be pulled from their caregiving duties to avoid further decline and the patient’s safety.
Why Is Caregiver Burnout More Common Among Those Caring For Senior Patients?
Caregiver burnout is not exclusive to geriatric patients, as it can occur with those caring for autistic children, cancer patients, mentally disabled patients, etc. However, caregivers looking after geriatric patients tend to experience the highest rate of caregiver burnout for several common reasons.
First, geriatric patients have the highest rate of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of memory loss. This makes caregiving extraordinarily challenging because the caregiver is fully responsible for every aspect of the patient’s daily life. One mistake could be harmful, even deadly, for the patient. For example, memory loss patients cannot manage their medication, which ultimately puts the responsibility on the caregiver, adding immense pressure.
Secondly, geriatric patients tend to have their own set of ideas on how things should be done. Contrary to caring for children or individuals facing new diseases or conditions, geriatric patients have expectations on how they want their laundry folded, meals prepared, and dishes cleaned. This can fuel conflict between the patient and caregiver over time, especially family caregivers.
Working With A Professional Home Care Agency Reduces The Risk Of Burnout
Caring for an elderly loved one often falls on the shoulders of family members unexpectedly. All too common is when family members suddenly realize their elderly relative can no longer care for themself, so they step up to the plate to help. The problem arises when the family caregiver also works a full-time job, manages their children and home, and tries to find time for themself. There are only so many hours in the day, and they cannot all be spent on life obligations. Where do social life, the gym, romance, and relaxation fit in?
Working with a professional home care agency significantly reduces the risk of family members burning out by addressing many of the issues above. Receiving ongoing support from a staff trained in caring for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and memory loss relieves stress on family members and the patient. Even if you only require respite care or short-term care, the benefits of receiving regular breaks allow you to hit the refresh button so you can be a better caregiver and family member.
We hope the above article helps you better understand the dangers of caregiver burnout – a significant problem that can lead to depression, anxiety, and elder abuse. At Premier Home Care, we put our caregivers and staff first! We mitigate caregiver burnout by providing flexible hours, ongoing training and support, and the ability to work directly with ownership. Please apply today if you are looking for a rewarding and thriving career in the senior healthcare industry. Premier Home Care is proud to help seniors and individuals with disabilities in medical and non-medical home care in greater Philadelphia, PA.