If you are one of the more than 40 million adults in North America taking care of an elderly loved one, then you have a lot on your plate. In addition to serving as a caregiver for your parents, you must also meet the demands of your career and your own children. Your parents and your children also have individual needs both financially and emotionally that pull you in opposite directions. And despite the fact these are labors of love, at the end of the day, you are left with little to no time for yourself. If this describes you, then you are a part of the “sandwich generation.”
Of course, supporting your family is important and fulfilling. But when you consistently prioritize others’ well-being over your own, you may not even realize that you are on the road to caregiver fatigue. The effects of caregiver fatigue are serious; they take a toll on your emotional and physical health. If this sounds like you, it may be time to evaluate your needs and the needs of your family.
What is Caregiver Fatigue?
Caregiver fatigue is exactly what it sounds like: the exhaustion that comes from providing care for others over a long period of time. Psychologists define it as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved stress.” And no matter how much you love your parents, being a caregiver usually is stressful. In fact, a 2007 survey done by the American Psychological Association found that two out of five caregivers in this position describe themselves as overextended. It takes time, emotional energy, and money to support someone, let alone two parents or in-laws.
Over time, if this stress is not relieved, you could face a myriad of legitimate health issues. These issues may include heart palpitations, digestion issues, high blood pressure, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. What’s even more problematic is that most adults take too long to address their case of caregiver fatigue because they don’t realize that these issues are serious. Physicians and psychologists do not take caregiver fatigue lightly, so you should know what to look for if you think you may be at risk.
The Signs of Caregiver Fatigue
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing caregiver fatigue.
- Consistent lack of energy
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Unusual impatience or irritability
- Getting sick more frequently
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
- The sensation that caregiving controls your life
- Increased dysfunction within your family (including members you are not caring for)
If you see these signs in yourself, fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce the impact or onset of caregiver fatigue. These solutions range from a healthy diet, to setting clearer boundaries with someone you are supporting, to seeking external methods of support.
Seeking External Support
At the end of the day, you’re not a superhero. You love your family, but you can’t be everywhere at once, and sometimes this means that the best thing for yourself and your loved ones is to seek external support. Consider a trusted community like The Village at Gainesville.
The Village at Gainesville offers assisted living options that balance support and independence. For one monthly fee, it will provide a variety of essential services and amenities including, but not limited to, housekeeping, more than 20 licensed nurses on staff, 24-hour direct care availability, restaurant-style dining, and full medication management.
Because of their dedication to their loved ones, many adults tend to refuse external support out of guilt or self-imposed obligation. But it is important to understand that your needs matter, too. And sometimes, a little extra help is all you need to be able to get back to being a family member again.
If you’re interested in exploring the assisted living options for a loved one at The Village at Gainesville, you can click here to request a free info kit to see if it is right for you or call today at 352-548-3507.