How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout in Elderly Care

When you provide in-home care for an elderly loved one, it is common to discount the needs of the caregiver, especially when you’re the spouse or adult child of the person who needs care. Many people see it as their duty, in that situation, to provide care. But caring for an elderly relative can be time-consuming, difficult and stressful work for a caregiver. And too much of that burden can lead to burnout.

What is Elderly Care Caregiver Burnout?

Caring for elderly relatives can have physical and emotional consequences. Even professional caregivers who have years of training can suffer caregiver burnout and feel overwhelmed, so naturally if you are a first-time caregiver with little or no training, you’re susceptible to burnout as well. According to Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is simply defined as a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, possibly paired with a change in attitude.

Burnout happens when you, as a caregiver, try to do more than you are able to, physically, emotionally, or financially. While that’s a difficult realization to come to (after all, people who are caregivers often believe they aren’t doing enough, against all available evidence), it’s important to be realistic with what you can handle, and seek assistance where it’s available. Burnout can also occur when you begin to neglect your own needs in favor of providing care. Because it’s a difficult thing to get out of, the best way to deal with caregiver burnout is prevention.

Know Your Limit of In-Home Care

It’s important, when providing care in the home, to know how much care you can (and can’t) provide. Elderly people with certain conditions like Alzheimer’s or mobility issues may need help with personal care like bathing and dressing. That can be physically exhausting, so making a realistic plan of what you can and can’t do can help you avoid burnout. It should be noted that recognizing burnout is easier said than done. The signs of burnout can include:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Emotional and/or physical exhaustion
  • Increased anxiety
  • Difficulty making decision

Once you notice these systems, it’s important to recognize that you are suffering from burnout and take action. Too many caregivers try to “fight through” the burnout, or deny that it exists, or feel guilty for feeling that way. That only makes things worse for you and your loved one.

Self-Care is Home Care

An elderly person you are providing in-home care for needs you to be healthy enough to care for them, physically, emotionally and mentally. That means you need to take time for yourself, to take care of your own needs as well. Many caregivers feel guilty, or as though they are being selfish for minding their own needs. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and time spent on your own needs won’t lessen the amount of time you need to take care of your loved one. But it can make that time easier, and more productive for you, if you are at full strength yourself. Here are some tips for caregivers’ self-care:

Eat Healthy

Don’t skip meals, and try to eat healthy meals. Some caregivers find it easier to prepare several days’ meals at once. You can also get help with meal preparation from a home care agency.

Get Some Exercise

Exercise not only improves your physical health, it can improve your mood as well. The exercise you choose doesn’t need to be an intense workout, or a formal yoga class. Even something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood can clear your head as well as providing the physical benefits of exercise.

Relax and Take Time for Yourself.

This sounds easier said than done. But even if it’s just a few hours a week to go to a movie or read a book, taking some time for yourself can re-charge your batteries and help you avoid burnout. If your loved one can’t be left alone, ask a relative or neighbor to spend some time with them while you take a break. A personal home care aide can also provide this type of assistance.

Consult Medical Professional about your own Health

Don’t skip your own medical appointments because you are providing care. If you can’t go in person because you can’t leave your loved one alone, try telemedicine, or ask your medical professional if they can make arrangements for you to bring your loved one along.

Ask for Help

The key to handling many difficult situations is just to acknowledge that it is difficult, and to ask for assistance. Whether that is asking a neighbor to run an errand for you, asking a family member to come over to help, or finding professional home care assistance, you should always keep in mind that it’s ok to ask for help. In fact, not only is it ok, it’s vital to the needs of both you and your loved one.

Find Professional Help

A home care agency can provide professional paid caregivers to help with many different types of tasks. From light housekeeping to medication reminders and meal planning, a professional caregiver can provide needed assistance, sometimes at little or no cost.

Home Care Powered by AUAF is Here to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Our dedicated home care professionals can provide services to make sure you never experience caregiver burnout. We take the burdens you face as a caregiver very seriously, and we know we can provide the help you and your loved one need. Call us at or contact us to find out more.

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