While caring for the ill or older adults can be a rewarding experience, it also has its challenges. Failing to acknowledge the stress of caregiving can affect your employee's health, relationships, and state of mind, leading to burnout. Learn how to recognize and understand the causes and symptoms of caregiver burnout so your employees can continue to provide excellent care to those in need.
Causes of Caregiver Burnout
Burnout is a state of physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion that occurs when caregivers overextend themselves or don't receive the help they need.
Caregivers are often so busy looking after others that they forget to care for their own needs. Some of the most common causes of burnout include:
- Heavy workloads: Caring for others consumes a lot of time, energy, and attention. Having a large workload can lead to burnout.
- Undefined roles: It can be difficult to transition out of the role of caregiver. Your employees may blur the lines between being caregivers and being parents, spouses, or friends.
- Isolation: Caregivers may feel a heavy sense of responsibility in their roles. When they do have time off, they might lack the time or energy to participate in social activities, leading to feelings of isolation.
- Lack of breaktime/balance: Your caregivers may spend long hours on the job due to the nature of the work, leaving little time for themselves.
- Conflicting policies and procedures: Conflicting policies and procedures can prevent caregivers from providing the best care possible or receiving the services they need.
- Unrealistic expectations: Some caregivers may expect the person they are caring for to get better. While it can happen, it's largely out of the caregiver's hands — and they may blame themselves or feel they're doing something wrong.
- Lack of control: If a caregiver feels they lack power regarding money, resources or other factors that affect the quality of care they can provide, they may experience burnout.
- Fear or uncertainty: If your caregiver is responsible for someone with severe health issues, they probably have concerns about their future or how to best proceed with their care. These feelings of fear and uncertainty can take a toll on the mind and body over time.
- Emotional demands: Caring for the ill or a loved one requires emotional and physical support, both of which can be overwhelming on their own.
- Guilt: Many caregivers feel guilty for experiencing symptoms of burnout. They may incorrectly feel that they can do more to help the ill or their loved ones. In reality, self-care is essential to the job.
Symptoms of Burnout
When caregiver burnout reaches a critical level, it may manifest in physical, mental, and emotional symptoms.
The physical signs of burnout can affect a caregiver's health by:
- Causing fatigue or problems sleeping.
- Making the caregiver more susceptible to illness or health problems.
- Creating rapid changes in the weight and diet of the caregiver.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Burnout symptoms can also affect the mental and emotional health of a caregiver by:
- Causing depression, withdrawal, and other negative emotions.
- Lowering the caregiver's self-esteem.
- Creating a loss of interest in activities and events.
- Fostering feelings of irritability or emotional exhaustion.
Support Your Workforce With SmartLinx
Caregiver burnout is a serious issue that affects patients and employees. At SmartLinx, we provide workforce management for healthcare to ensure your caregivers have the support they need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.