Caregiver Burnout - Recognizing and Coping with Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiver Burnout - Recognizing and Coping with Signs of Caregiver Stress
Dominique Curtin, 2/5/2017
If you are currently caring for a loved one, it is easy to neglect your own needs, which could result in caregiver burnout. This article will address the warning signs and how to prevent it from occurring.

What Causes Caregiver Burnout

  1. Expectations are set too high – many caregivers put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect, and hope that since they are caring for their loved one it will be a greater impact then if hired help was. Unfortunately, that is not always realistic.
  2. Lack of experience – it is normal to get irritated or upset if you are unable to plan, manage, organize for all the different facets that require you to take care of your loved one.
  3. Taking on more than you can handle.

Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout:

While there are many symptoms associated with caregiver stress, these are some of the most common ones people experience.
  1. Emotional and physical exhaustion.
  2. You are unable to get a full night of sleep; where you can sleep the entire night, yet still wake up with an overwhelming exhaustion.
  3. You often feel petulant and/or melancholy. One minute you are happy, the next you are completely furious, and the next minute you are sad or melancholy.
  4. Fluctuations in your appetite and weight. It also influences your ability to maintain physical and emotional stability. You may feel hungry all the time and eat too much, or conversely, you have lost your appetite and no longer feel the urge to eat.
  5. You withdraw from friends, family and loved ones
  6. Unable to stay healthy for long periods of time (get sick often!)
  7. Lose interest in activities you used to enjoy

Tips from Family Caregivers on How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout:

  1. “You have to make arrangements to have a day or two a week just for yourself! You might feel guilty at first but that will go away a little at a time. You have to get away and you need time with other adults!”
  2. “A short break is better than no break. I get one weekend a month off and it helps me to get rest with no responsibility and I’m grateful for those moments.” can help you arrange time for respite care so you can stay fresh while caring for your loved one.
  3. “Yes, it is draining, but I mostly recover after a 24-hour break.”
  4. “Having a nurse come out for two hours per day helps me…gives me a break and I can delegate some tasks that I may be tired of doing, but it keeps my sanity.”
  5. “The burnout feeling happens and sometimes it can’t be helped. For me, I am lucky enough to have a person give me a few days a week to relax. Those are my days to do what I need. In the beginning, I did feel guilty; in time, I have learned everyone does things differently and if my person is taken care of, that’s what matters!”
  6. Caregiving is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week responsibility, and with that full-time schedule burning out may be inevitable. However, there are some steps you can do to try to avoid it. Set expectations that are realistic, and stick to them!
  7. Confide in a friend/family member or loved one that you can trust and vent to them. Caregiving is not easy, so sometimes it could be helpful to express some frustrations you are feeling. has a members-only caregiver support group that family caregivers are welcome to join and share their experiences.
  8. YOU are important to. Make sure to take time and do something for you! Take a walk, read a book, go to the spa…etc. You deserve it.
  9. When you need help, reach out to those who can help you.
  10. See our article on 7 tips to reduce caregiver stress
Dominique Curtin

Dominique Curtin

Dominique is the Digital Content Manager for, a leader in the caregiver referral service industry. She has marketing expertise in the healthcare industry and has a passion for helping families connect with the best caregivers. In addition, she has helped lead several company's marketing programs across websites and social media platforms.