Providing a dementia patient with the care they need and deserve can be a full-time job, especially as the condition progresses. Family members who take on the role of primary caregiver can start to feel overwhelmed. While the main focus remains on the dementia patient, caregivers may not notice themselves starting to display mental, emotional, and physical problems associated with their caregiving role. These signs of stress can show up in a whole host of different ways, and they shouldn’t be ignored. If you or someone you love is a caregiver for a dementia patient, take time to read through the following list of caregiver burnout symptoms.
Not only will a caregiver experiencing burnout typically begin to feel anger and resentment about the diagnosis itself, but they can also actually start projecting that frustration onto the patient. These feelings can drive them to irrationally expect the patient to be able to do things they are no longer capable of doing.
2. Failure to Accept the Diagnosis
When a person is emotionally attached to someone, it’s very difficult to accept that their loved one has been diagnosed with dementia. Rather than face the reality of the situation and learn how to deal with the diagnosis as constructively as possible, many caregivers stay in denial. They either completely deny the diagnosis, believing it to be incorrect, or they minimize the seriousness of the disease. Some caregivers deliberately refuse to learn about the symptoms of dementia, because they can’t bear to think of their loved one experiencing them.
3. Worry and Fear of the Future
This is a common reaction to any terminal diagnosis, but it’s especially true for one with such profound physical, psychological and emotional symptoms as dementia. Caregivers experiencing burnout tend to constantly wonder how long they’ll be able to provide their loved one with the care they need and what will happen when they are no longer able to do so.
4. Feelings of Hopelessness
When a caregiver experiencing burnout moves into a state of depression, they can start to grow apathetic toward the patient. They feel like they’re trapped in a no-win situation.
5. Withdrawing from Social Interaction
A burned-out caregiver who was once a sociable person can start to draw back from spending time with anyone other than the patient. So much of their mental, physical, and emotional energy is expended caring for their loved one with dementia that they don’t feel they have anything left to offer anyone else.
6. Difficulty Sleeping
The fear and anxiety experienced by burned-out caregivers can lead to insomnia. Caregivers can worry so much about what may happen to the patient while they’re asleep that they have trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep or to sleep soundly. Their sleep may also be interrupted by a dementia patient who isn’t sleeping well and wakes the caregiver up throughout the night.
7. Feelings of Extreme Fatigue and Negativity
It’s pretty normal for a burned-out caregiver to become totally exhausted. As a result of this exhaustion, they can feel moody and short-tempered. They can experience angry outbursts or burst into tears. Another sign of their caregiver fatigue is lacking the ability to concentrate on normal daily tasks, such as paying bills or getting chores done around the house.
8. Compromised Health
If left unchecked, the other symptoms of caregiver burnout can lead to significant mental, emotional, and physical health problems. These could include headaches, digestive trouble, and clinical depression and anxiety, to name a few.
Caregiving for a dementia patient is an extremely difficult task. Finding a support network and setting up respite care may be crucial for caregiver experiencing burnout. If you or someone you care about is displaying these symptoms, it’s time to seek out help. If you live around the Statesville, Mooresville, and Troutman areas in North Carolina, contact Home Care Helpers to learn how we can help you and your loved one.