Less than a year ago, a study found that “42 percent of family caregivers experience depression, mood swings or resentment as a result of their labors.” Most people that have provided prolonged care for a loved one, especially in the last two years, have found the work difficult, to put it mildly. Because family caregiving is often a labor of love and/or necessity, it usually equates to an unpaid part-time (or even full-time) job, in addition to whatever employment or other dependents that person already has. Covid has not made things any easier and has pushed many to the breaking point. Some have even had to make the hard choice between maintaining sources of income or devoting themselves full-time to caregiving.
So what can be done? Beyond lobbying for improved support systems on a legislative level, what can you as a caregiver do to avoid burning out completely? The best way is to know the signs of burnout so you can take proactive steps in advance. If you find yourself becoming exhausted, more irritable, socially withdrawn, anxious, lacking sleep, or even getting sick more often, consider the following:
With the cost of Covid, the emotional, mental and physical toll of family caregiving has become its own epidemic. Caregivers often go unseen and unappreciated because they rarely operate in a professional, public environment. This can make them feel isolated and alone. It’s important that we, as a society, remain vigilant and aware of those struggling to care for loved ones while trying to maintain their own lives. The more aware we are of the problems at hand, the easier it is for those people to access support.