Caregiver Burnout: Symptoms, Prevention, & Coping Strategies

Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout

Unfortunately, caregiver burnout has become a common household term in recent years. As the aging population increases, so does the need for caregivers. There are thousands of family caregivers and healthcare professionals nationwide, including home health agencies and senior living communities. We salute these underappreciated and overworked individuals caring for our beloved elderly population.

Although caregiving is a tremendous act of service, it is vital to be cognisant of caregiving’s limitations. Recognizing burnout symptoms, as well as strategies to acknowledge and adapt, will be explored further in this article. We hope the information below will encourage you to take a proactive approach to caregiving, whether you are a healthcare professional or a family member caring for an aging loved one. Through understanding the struggle surrounding caregivers and the constraints involved, we will explore tactics to improve the well-being of both caregiver and patient.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is a compassionate and unselfish duty, encompassing the best of the human spirit. However, all too frequently, the physical and psychological energy needed to perform can overwhelm even the best of us. The emotional strain required to achieve day-in and day-out tasks takes a toll on the caregiver, ultimately leading to symptoms of burnout. These symptoms include:

  • Exhaustion can be manifested either physically or mentally, or both.
  • Changes in appetite which lead either to weight loss or weight gain.
  • Fluctuations in sleep patterns.
  • Lack of concentration or sharpness.
  • Signs of a diminished immune system (susceptible to illness more frequently).
  • Social withdrawal (diminished interest in previously engaging activities).
  • Heightened irritability dealing with others.

These behavioral changes will only sometimes be apparent. More often than not, we as humans try to hide or disguise our actual struggles. Remember, avoidance of these subjects will likely lead to diminished returns. The overall goal can only be achieved when the caregiver can perform optimally. 

Signs Of Caregiver Abuse Among Patients

When the stress of providing care becomes too overwhelming, there is a real risk of the caregiver abusing the patient, often known as Caregiver Stress Theory

There are several forms of abuse you should be aware of, including verbal, mental, physical, social, and even financial. Without the proper safeguards, any one of these forms of abuse occurs. The National Library of Medicine houses a wealth of knowledge on these subjects. Through studies and a vast array of articles, they provide an excellent resource for the study of abusive caregiver behavior. 

It can be challenging to self-evaluate caregiver stress theory and patient abuse. Here are several questions you should ask if you suspect that you or someone you know is abusing a patient.

  • Is there a degree of intimidation with the recipient of care? 
  • Does the caregiver find themself yelling frequently? 
  • Is there any verbal humiliation or ridicule? 
  • Is blame rendered, or are there signs of scapegoating to the patient? 
  • Does the caregiver ignore the patient? 
  • Is the caregiver short, frustrated, or annoyed by simple requests or actions? 
  • Does the caregiver engage in tactics of isolation? 
  • Are funds, jewelry, or valuable belongings missing?
  • If the caregiver is a family member, have they tried to convince the patient to provide passwords, change a will or legal document, or request money?
  • Are there signs of physical abuse, such as bruising, broken bones, etc? 
  • Does the patient diverge conversation from questions like “How is it going?” Are they distant and apprehensive about conversations in general? 

An Epidemic of Family Caregivers in America

According to the National Library of Medicine, 60% of spousal caregivers reported having no choice in taking on the caregiving role, while 51% of adult children reported having no choice. It would be safe to assume that every caregiver has at least some level of negativity towards their situation, but this holds especially true for family caregivers placed in an unwanted situation. 

Family members who become caregivers often find themselves overwhelmed by the constant demands of assisting with daily tasks, managing medications, driving to doctor appointments, and balancing finances. By raising awareness about the risks of abuse towards a senior from burnout family members, we can work together towards providing better support systems and resources. 

Caregiver Burnout Prevention and Coping Strategies 

A common rule of advice represents a crucial approach to preventing and coping with caregiver burnout. Many of us have flown on a plane. What advice is given on every flight? In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will deploy from above. Fasten your own mask first before you attempt to assist others. This public service announcement may not be the primary instinct, but it bluntly conveys an authentic truth. It is crucial to ensure one’s own necessities before offering support to others! Below are several tips for preventing and coping with caregiver burnout:

  • It is crucial for the caregiver to not diverge from their own lives. Make sure to attend your own healthcare appointments or social functions. Find time to relax and engage in preferred hobbies and pastimes. 
  • Accept help and assistance when it is offered. All too often, the burden of care falls begrudgingly to just a few persons.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  • Talk with your healthcare provider, a psychologist, or another mental healthcare specialist. 
  • Set up a support system. Utilize family, friends, and any other beneficial group or organization. 
  • Hire temporary respite care when needed. You need breaks from your caregiving duties, and so does the patient. A rotation of caregivers is healthy for all parties involved. 


The stressors of caregiving can lead to mental, emotional, and, most often, physical exhaustion. Beware of the signs that you or someone you know may be burnt out, including feelings of stress, anxiousness, social withdrawal, fatigue, and even depression. Not only is the caregiver at risk, but the patient is as well. With the ultimate goal of great, unwavering care, the well-being of all caregivers must be paramount.

If your elderly loved one lives in Greater New Orleans and requires assisted living or memory care services, don’t hesitate to contact Peristyle Residences. Our caregivers are provided the time and resources to avoid burnout, feel empowered, and provide the best possible care to our residents. We look forward to meeting you and your family.