Caregiver Burnout

Preventing, Recognizing, and Overcoming Exhaustion and Stress

Woman on the couch experiencing caregiver burnout

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are currently over 53 million family caregivers in the United States. Family caregivers provide unpaid care for their loved ones, often older adults, who are living with chronic conditions or disabilities. While caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting, leading to what’s known as caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from long-term caregiving. It is a common experience among family caregivers, and it can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. Symptoms of caregiver burnout may include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Neglecting your own needs, such as skipping meals or not getting enough exercise
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Getting sick more often than usual

Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Preventing caregiver burnout requires self-care and support. Being proactive is key. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and avoid burnout:

  • Take breaks: It’s essential to take regular breaks from caregiving to recharge and rest. Even short breaks throughout the day can make a big difference.
  • Get support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members, friends, or professionals. And don’t wait until the overwhelm has consumed you to ask. Joining a support group for caregivers can also be helpful.
  • Prioritize self-care: Make time for yourself to do things you enjoy, such as exercise, reading, or spending time with friends. This tends to be the first thing to go when time is limited. Move it to the TOP of the list.
  • Set boundaries: It’s okay to say no to requests that are beyond your capacity or to delegate some caregiving responsibilities to others. (Learn more: Setting Boundaries as a Caregiver).
  • Stay organized: Keep track of medications, appointments, and other caregiving tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed. (Learn more: The organized Caregiver)

Red Flags to Look For

It’s important to recognize the warning signs of caregiver burnout to prevent it from getting worse. Here are some red flags to look for:

  • Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
  • A sense of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Feelings of anger or resentment

If You Have Caregiver Burnout

If you’re experiencing caregiver burnout, it’s crucial to seek help. Your health and well-being and that of your loved one depend on it. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional: They can help you manage your symptoms and develop coping strategies. If getting away is difficult, use telehealth services.
  • Consider respite care: Respite care provides temporary relief to caregivers by allowing them to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Join a support group: Support groups for caregivers provide a safe space to share experiences, get advice, and find emotional support.
  • Get help with caregiving: Consider hiring a professional caregiver or asking family members or friends to help out with caregiving tasks.

Learn more: Understanding Caregiver Mental Health

Caregiver burnout is a common experience among family caregivers, but it can be prevented and managed with self-care and support. Recognizing the warning signs of burnout and seeking help when needed is essential for the well-being of both the caregiver and their loved one. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is necessary to maintain your health and continue providing care for your loved one. By practicing self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking help when needed, you can avoid or manage caregiver burnout and continue to provide the best possible care for your loved one. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you through this journey.

Are You in Crisis? Help is Available

If you are struggling with mental health, depression, or thoughts of suicide, you are not alone and you do not have to suffer in silence. If you or someone you know needs emergency assistance, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Find more help at

If you liked this post, please subscribe to our newsletter for more great content. You can also find and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.