Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be overwhelming and lead to caregiver burnout. It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of exhaustion so that you can take action before the condition worsens. Exhaustion occurs over time when the caregiver is overwhelmed by the stress of caring for a loved one, while compassion fatigue occurs suddenly and is the loss of the ability to empathize and feel compassion for other people. A survey by the National Alliance for Caregiver Care and the AARP Public Policy Institute found that 40 percent of caregivers felt emotionally stressed, nearly 20 percent said it was causing them financial problems, and about 20 percent felt physically exhausted.
A large study published in the Journals of Gerontology also found that caregivers who felt they were under a lot of pressure had worse health outcomes compared to those who felt little or no effort. If you think you may be experiencing caregiver burnout, it's important to take action as soon as possible. Self-reflection and lifestyle changes can help improve compassion fatigue, while seeking help from a doctor or mental health professional is recommended for those experiencing exhaustion. Taking steps to address caregiver burnout can help ensure that both the person receiving care and the caregiver are in good health.