Coping with Caregiver Burnout: Strategies to Regain Life Balance

Coping with caregiver burnout

Are you caring for a loved one who needs daily assistance? If yes, or you know someone who is, you might want to familiarize yourself with one of the biggest risks that can occur: caregiver burnout.

It’s understandable. In one study, it was noted that one-in-three caregivers provided more than 20 hours of care per week and over half had cared or assisted an individual for 24 months or more.

The responsibilities and tasks typically fall on one set of shoulders, even if there is help from other family members or friends.

How is caregiving defined?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), caregiving affects the quality of life for millions of individuals. It includes providing assistance with one or more of the basic daily tasks, such as help with bathing, dressing, managing a chronic condition, shopping, preparing meals or providing transportation.

Middle-aged and older adults also provide a substantial portion of care in the U.S. according to the CDC. And they may be muti-tasking as many also are caring for children, spouses and parents at the same time.

Impact of providing care for a loved one

Many caregivers will tell you it’s fulfilling to care for their loved one. The experience may improve both the individual and the caregiver’s life. However, caregiving can also impact the carer’s ability to work, engage socially or maintain their own physical and mental health.

In a study, 14.5% of caregivers reported experiencing 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month. And 17.6% of caregivers reported 14 or more physically unhealthy days. Not surprisingly, 36.7% of caregivers reported getting insufficient sleep. They often neglect their own care and the study found 53.4% of caregivers had two or more chronic diseases themselves.

Caregiver burnout: causes and symptoms

According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.

The following are often common causes:

1. The needs and requirements of care are too much

Some caregiving needs exceed what can be provided by one person at home. However, as family members often feel an obligation or guilt, they may continue to struggle.

2. The health of the caregiver is compromised

It’s well known that caregivers often neglect their own health. This can lead to serious illnesses or worsening chronic conditions of their own.

3. There is little relief or respite available

It is not always easy to find someone to take your place. Often, caregivers don’t feel that anyone can care as much as they do but it can also be difficult to find needed respite.

4. The caregiver doesn’t feel supported

Caregiving can be a lonely experience. It’s not unusual for the individual and the caregiver to become somewhat isolated in their home, especially when the caregiver doesn’t have support.

5. The caregiver is stressed with other responsibilities

As mentioned above, caregivers are often taking care of children or others at the same time they are caring for a parent. Life’s stresses begin to take a toll.

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Typical symptoms of caregiver burnout


Exhaustion is a common feeling among caregivers. There often is little time for themselves to take a break or get needed rest.

Anxiety and depression

While caregiving can be fulfilling, people often begin to experience anxiety and depression. The days can be long and the nights longer. Without sleep, healthy nutrition or social interaction, mental health will likely suffer.


Caregivers often feel guilty. Whether it’s because they become frustrated while providing care or wanting a night off for themselves, guilty feelings often accumulate.

Increased stress

Caregiving may be only one source of stress. The caregiver likely has other responsibilities and tasks that also must be completed.

Withdrawal and isolation

It can be easier to stay at home than try to go out on excursions. A sense of hopelessness can develop, leading to isolation and withdrawal from others.

Caregiver burnout: next steps to take

Find someone you can talk to

You need a trusted friend or family member to talk to and be able to vent or share your feelings without a sense of judgment.

Set realistic expectations

It’s essential to be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish. You are only one person and human.

Find respite care

Whether it’s professional care from an agency or assisted living community or a break provided by family or friends, you must find ways to decompress.

Join a support group

Sometimes talking to others who know exactly where you are and what you are feeling is a lifeline.

Take care of your own health

Even if you feel you don’t have the time, you must prioritize your own health or you won’t be able to care for another.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

How an assisted living community can help

Assisted living communities often offer respite care to families for a few days or even weeks. This allows the caregiver time to attend an important event, take a vacation or just catch up with other responsibilities.

You might want to consider a community for a long-term solution as well. Your loved one will have an accessible residence, the care of a compassionate and trained staff, healthy dining, activities, entertainment and social interaction. What families often appreciate the most is that they can then return to their roles of son, daughter or spouse and truly enjoy the time spent together.

Discover life at a Northbridge community.

If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.

You’ll also discover many benefits in a Northbridge Senior Living community, including our Signature Program S.T.A.R. Club (Sharp Thinking, Active Residents) – which offers our residents several activities to participate in with others, including:

  • Daily exercise group
  • Walking club
  • Tai Chi & yoga
  • Nutritional classes
  • Library and book club
  • Museum outings
  • Artists in residence program
  • Multi-generational music
  • Genealogy Generations

We’re here to answer any of your questions. Please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour. Download our complimentary Family Decision Toolkit.

Family Decision Toolkit

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