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Monday, February 26, 2024

Our Voices – Caregiver burnout

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If you are a caregiver to a loved one, you undoubtedly know that it requires a huge responsibility. If you are caregiving with little or no assistance, it can become overwhelming. The emotional impact of caregiving over time can increase your risk of burnout. Burnout occurs when a caregiver is so stressed and exhausted that it affects every aspect of their lives, including their own health!

This stress can happen when a caregiver is so focused on their loved one that their own needs are overlooked. If your needs as a caregiver are unchecked, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Feelings such as exhaustion, irritability, trouble relaxing, impatience, helplessness, and hopelessness could be indicators of burnout.

According to Kathy Ford, Director of Pastoral Care at St. Raphael Church, many caregivers feel alone. Ford says, “The biggest issue is feeling totally isolated 24/7 combined with a loss of friends and groups they used to have.”

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So, how can you cope with caregiver burnout? Start by looking for ways to feel empowered. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can. Prioritize what you can and cannot do (you cannot do it all!).

Schedule regular check ins with friends and allow yourself to take a break. Taking time for yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. And most importantly, ask for help. Consider joining a caregiver support group.

As Ford says, “Caregivers are heroes, but they don’t need to be alone. There are many community resources that can help.”

Carpe Diem!

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Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr is a Naperville resident and member of the Naperville Senior Task Force.

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