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Caregiver Burnout: Prevention and Management

The act of caring is largely rewarding, but can also be a stressful one. For those living with immobilised, ill, or elderly family members at home, caregiver burnout is a real concern. In 2017, a study in Singapore showed that 40.2% of carers for stroke survivors suffered from depressive symptoms.

This number is likely the tip of an iceberg. A separate first-of-its-kind study also revealed that a whopping nine in 10 caregivers of patients with mental health issues are asking for some form of professional help. As a caregiver, how can you avoid the stress and burnout associated with this trying responsibility?

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is the feeling of physical, emotional and mental fatigue stemming from caring for a ward. Like the final straw that broke the camel’s back, caregivers are no longer able to provide care. This can result in care recipients facing a higher risk of being sent into institutions, such as nursing homes.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Burnout can creep in silently and gradually, so it is important to spot the issue in incubation. Some of the red flags include:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Negative emotions
  • Physical fatigue
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Abuse or neglect of the care recipient
  • Lack of concern towards the wellbeing of the care recipient
  • Declining personal health
  • Poor self-esteem

While not all caregivers experience burnout in the same way, those who are caring for their spouse or someone with dementia may be more susceptible to it. Caregivers who are under financial stress or have added responsibilities such as having to care for young children at the same time are also more vulnerable.

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

For many caregivers, the stress from burnout can be serious – including having a negative impact on their own mental health. Here are some ways you can prevent caregiver burnout.

1. Pinpoint problem areas

Start by identifying the most challenging area within your caregiving role. With this, you will be able to implement tasks and solutions to address the problem. For example, if you find it difficult to cook nutritious meals for the care recipient at all times, consider looking for a suitable caterer instead. Recognising what is driving your stress and burnout can help you to overcome them. Breaking your tasks into bite-sized manageable pieces can also help you to plan and prioritise them.

2. Seek therapeutic support

Dealing with physical or mental impairments can be frustrating for both the caregiver and care recipient. Seeking therapeutic support in the form of occupational therapy and the likes can help to enable or encourage participation in daily activities. Once both parties have learned to overcome or accept the limitations, it is likely that their burden will be equally lessened.

3. Ask for help

If the stress of caring for an elderly or ill family member gets too tough, do not be afraid to ask for help. A helping hand can come in the form of other family members coming in to help out, or for medical professionals to point you in the right direction and treatment. Be specific about the help you need – for example, if you are struggling with finding time to send your ward for medical appointments, prepare the calendar in advance so others can plan out their time as well.

4. Get professional respite care services

When nothing else seems to work, consider engaging professional caregiving services instead. Respite care services allow caregivers in Singapore to take a break, giving you time to rest and recharge. Some of the common areas of support include bathing, feeding, toileting and transferring.

Let the experts at Jaga-Me help

Jaga-Me offers reliable respite care to help you care for your loved one at home. Whether it is caregiving by nurses or healthcare assistants, our licensed nurses or trained caregivers will be able to help alleviate your stress and burden by providing quality and professional care services.

The responsibilities that come with caregiving can be overwhelming for many. With our respite care support, you will be able to focus on the important things – being there for your loved one. Speak to us to find out how our services in Singapore can help you and your family today.

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