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5 Signs a Family Caregiver Needs Support

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caregiver_supportServing as the family caregiver can put strains on even the strongest individuals. This can lead to caregiver burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. This happens when a caregiver doesn’t seek out the help they need or tries to manage all responsibilities themselves. 

The solution to beating caregiver burnout can vary from person to person. However, the common denominator is reducing one’s caregiving stress by bringing in additional support. 

Not sure when it’s time to step in? Below is a list of five signs a family caregiver you know may need some extra help.

1. Declining Health

An article Caring.com puts it perfectly:

“Caregivers often focus so intently on the needs of the individual receiving care that they may neglect their own health and wellness.”

If you notice a caregiver continually getting sick or looking run down, it’s most likely because life is getting off balance.

The strength of one’s immune system is a great measure of overall health. Noticing a new pattern of headaches, flu, bacterial infections and other illnesses can be a telltale sign of caregiver burnout.

How you can help: Encourage the caregiver to seek medical attention to ensure it is nothing serious. Additionally, bring together a group of family and friends who are willing and able to extend a helping hand when the caregiver needs a break.

2. Changes in Mood

During someone’s caregiving journey, they may start to find less joy in things that once made them happy. Although caring for someone you love can be rewarding, it carries its own share of emotional strain.  

It’s a good time to step in if you notice anger, resentment, worry and guilt beginning to build up.

How you can help: Sometimes, all we need is an ear to listen to us when it feels like we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. Let the caregiver know you are available for them to talk to and share their feelings. Suggesting they keep a journal to record their thoughts would also be beneficial to help them work through their emotions.

3. Social Isolation

As a family caregiver, it can become common to draw inward and begin avoiding others. Finding time to enjoy family and friends while caring for a loved one at the same time can be extremely challenging. 

If you begin to notice them withdrawing from their previous habits and lifestyle, treat this as a red flag and offer support.

How you can help: Continue inviting the caregiver to social events or bring the fun activities to them. Calling, texting or video-chatting throughout the week can keep them engaged in the relationship. You can also offer to take something off the caregiver’s plate:

  • Take the senior loved one to an appointment.
  • Pick up groceries.
  • Offer to watch over their loved one for the afternoon.

This will allow the caregiver time to step away for a few hours to get some rest.

4. Change in Eating Habits

Having to care for and maintain another person’s lifestyle can cause a family caregiver’s healthy eating habits to slip under the rug. Some may find themselves too busy to cook a proper meal, while others indulge in overeating.  

If you see a family caregiver in your life skipping meals or engaging in unhealthy activities, it may be time to check in with them to see what is on their mind.

How you can help: In this situation, there are a few ways you can be a huge help to a caregiver you know:

  • Offer to help with meal prep or planning.
  • Start a meal train.
  • Drop off a nutritious meal.
  • Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
  • Invite them to join you for a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Invite them out for a bike ride at the park.

Each of these tasks will ensure your loved one is getting the proper nutrients and regular exercise they need.

5. Self-Care Lapse

You’ll know burnout has hit when caregivers develop the mindset that self-care is not a priority. They may begin to put themselves at the end of the list, especially when it starts getting long.  

If you’re noticing the family caregiver in your life lose interest in what they used to enjoy to unwind—cooking, reading, exercising—it may be time to offer some assistance.

How you can help: Encourage a caregiver you know to set up a daily self-care routine to ensure they are taking the best care of themselves. This can include, reading, journaling, walking, meditating and so much more.

Our Newsletter Can Help with Caregiver Burnout

If you or someone you love is experiencing caregiver burnout, we encourage you to subscribe to our monthly Caregiver Conversations newsletter to receive family caregiver advice, tips, and more.  

Click here to sign up to have this information delivered straight to your inbox.

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David Napoli
David Napoli
David has been in funeral service for over 10 years as a second career, leaving behind seminary life and working in the Catholic Church for a decade. He enjoys all things family, especially exploring the greater Cleveland area and Metro Parks with his wife, two children and their white shepherd.

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