Caregiver exhaustion is a gradual process that occurs over time, while compassion fatigue can come on suddenly and unexpectedly. When a caregiver is overwhelmed by the stress of caring for another person, they may feel physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. They may also feel unsupported or unappreciated for their efforts. Compassion fatigue is the loss of the ability to empathize and feel compassion for others, including the person they are caring for.
A study published in the Journals of Gerontology found that caregivers who felt they were under a lot of pressure had worse health outcomes than those who felt little or no effort. Knowing the signs of caregiver burnout can help caregivers recognize when to adjust their caregiving approach. If you or someone you know is dealing with fatigue due to compassion or caregiver exhaustion, there are several things that can help reduce these feelings. The National Alliance for Caregiver Care and the AARP Public Policy Institute conducted a survey which revealed 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.
To combat compassion fatigue and caregiver burnout, it's important to take time for yourself and practice self-care. This could include activities such as yoga, meditation, journaling, or simply taking a break from caregiving duties. It's also important to reach out to family and friends for support and to join a support group with other caregivers who understand what you're going through.