An article in last week’s National Post discussed “compassion fatigue” – a health risk that family caregivers too often experience.
The article describes the high potential for caregiver burnout, saying as the length of time of caregiving increases, the risk of burnout does as well. Dr. Jacqueline Brunshaw, the author of the article, provides tips for caregivers to protect their own health, like understanding the challenges of the situation, celebrating the good times had with the family member, and asking for help.
Caring for a high-needs senior in particular may stretch family caregivers beyond their capacity when there is only limited outside support. We have recently reported on the state of home care in
both in Seniors in
need, caregivers in distress, and our Progress Report 2012.
We found that about 40-50% of seniors with the most complex health needs have
distressed caregivers who report they are finding it difficult to continue to
provide care, and that they have feelings of stress, anger, and depression.Home
care is an integral part of the health care system, and in order to help ensure
the best quality of life for seniors and avoid “compassion fatigue” by their
caregivers, it must be supported and enhanced. Canada
Dr. Brunshaw lists 10 signs of caregiver burnout. If you recognize them in yourself or someone else, you may wish to discuss them with a professional:
1) Feeling unusually tense, irritable or agitated with others
2) Being irritable and angry towards the ill/disabled individual
3) Feeling sad, tearful or dissatisfied with life in general
4) Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed
5) Withdrawal from friends and enjoyable activities due to loss of desire and/or energy
6) Lowered immunity: getting sick more often and taking an unusually long time to recover
7) Increased need for medications and/or use of drugs or alcohol
8) Feeling out of control in attempts to manage your usual daily routine, with no sense of how to regain that control any time soon
9) Trouble sleeping and/or disturbing dreams
10) Change in appetite