Caregiver Stress Syndrome: What is it and How to Cope

Caregiver stress syndrome, also known as caregiver burnout, is a condition characterized by physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It is usually caused by a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health while caring for a loved one who is sick, injured, or disabled. Caregiver exhaustion can manifest itself in a change of attitude, from positive and affectionate to negative and carefree. Burnout can occur when a caregiver does not receive the help they need or if they try to do more than they can handle, either physically or financially. Caregivers who are exhausted may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Many caregivers also feel guilty if they take time for themselves instead of dedicating it to their sick or elderly loved ones. While Medicaid caregivers are paid for their work, Medicare caregivers are not, which can be an additional source of stress. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, it was found that less than 50 percent of caregivers were asked whether or not they were experiencing caregiver stress. Caregiver syndrome or caregiver stress is a condition that is characterized by exhaustion, anger, guilt, or other negative emotions as a result of providing relentless care to a patient with a chronic illness. Research has shown that caregivers experience less stress and better health when they learn skills through caregiver training and participate in support groups. Other benefits mentioned by caregivers include finding meaning in their lives and feeling proud of their success as caregivers.

Between 40 and 70% of caregivers suffer from depression, while many also have anxiety as a result of the stress associated with providing care. To cope with the strain of the caregiver relationship and patient relationship, caregivers are turning to online forums such as the Alzheimer's Association for support.

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