Caregiver Burnout: Ten Coping Tips


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Whether you are an unpaid family caregiver or a professional in-home health care provider, you are most likely willing to admit you have on occasion been near the breaking point. The demands placed on a caregiver can be all at once physically exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. Unrealistic expectations piled on you from case managers, agency supervisors, your client’s family or the client him or herself can lead to workplace fatigue. When you become aware of your own feelings of anger, depression, or unresolved job frustration, this can mean something more serious. Workplace burnout is a type of stress that is potentially dangerous. Here are ten tips that will help you to identify coping strategies to alleviate caregiver burnout.

Do not ignore your own physical symptoms. A nagging headache, backache or upset stomach could become debilitating if left unchecked.

Participate in a professional network. Newsletters, peer groups, chats and online forums can be great sources of information, as well as places to vent frustration.

Consult with medical professionals about burnout issues. While stress is normal, burnout can be dangerous both for you and those for whom you provide care.

Attend a support group to receive feedback and to learn coping skills. Others in your situation are often a wonderful resource for information, inspiration and strength.

Do not allow yourself to become isolated from your own life. You are not what you do for a living. Stay involved with your own activities and interests.

Find ways to share the focus of your responsibilities. Consult with family members or co-workers on rotating duties to keep your work fresh and interesting.

Establish “quiet time" each day for rest, reading, catching up on your email, or even yoga or meditation.

Get a weekly massage. This may seem frivolous; however, even a short neck and shoulder massage can relieve physical tension and be rejuvenating.

Assess how often you can help. Learn your limits. If you have trouble saying “no, ” create a written contract for services upon which you and your client can agree. This contract can act as a safeguard against others who might be tempted to take advantage of you.

Evaluate your expertise. Stay current. Enhance your education. Seek instruction, training, and advice from the physician, nurses and home care agencies Involved in your client’s care.

Locate local resources for respite care, also called adult day care. This is a service that allows for a family member or care provider to get a break for a few hours during the day.

Finally, learn to identify the various ways in which stress affects you. Insomnia, irritability, recurring colds or other illnesses, negativity, hopelessness or feeling out of control can all be warning signs. These burnout signals can lead to a disassociation from your work, which can become the cause of accident or injury to yourself or your client. Take care of yourself, so that you are better able to be the source of strength and inspiration for your own family and friends, in addition to being better able to meet the needs of your client.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Laura Gillson is a speaker, author and educator specializing in disability awareness, advocacy, accessibility and assistive technology. For corporate, community or caregiver training, visit Eloquent Insights at If you need help with in-home care, you’ll find it at In-Home Insights at Finally, you’ll discover a site for sore eyes at Accessible Insights at The author's email address is


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