How to avoid caregiver burnout

This content is categorized as:

As the number of older Americans continues to increase, so does the need for caregivers. Many adults in their 40s and 50s are taking on this responsibility, while also managing their careers and caring for their children; oftentimes with adult children returning home. Even though most people willingly step up to the plate when a family member is facing a chronic disease or condition, this act of love can also be challenging for the one who is providing care and support. 

Over time, caregiving can both physically and emotionally wear down even the strongest of people. In a recent study conducted by Athene, 58% of respondents indicated that emotional and physical stress was the biggest pain point of caretaking, followed by not having enough time for yourself and facing financial strain brought on by this responsibility. While selflessness feels right at first, consistently ignoring your own needs can leave you overwhelmed and can put your own health at risk.

If you are a caregiver for a loved one, these tips can keep burnout at bay and ease some of the challenges you may be facing.

Take regular breaks.

Time away from caregiving duties helps you refresh your mind. Go for walks, make a coffee date with a friend or spend time with children and grandchildren. Inside your own home, create a space that's just yours, such as a spare room for reading or napping.

Do what you love.

You may be tempted to give up things you enjoy, but that can lead to resentment down the line. Remain in your book club, keep going to your yoga class or tend your garden. No matter the activity, it's important to be able to turn to the same hobbies you've always loved, even if you occasionally have to alter your schedule.

Try meditation.

As little as 15 minutes a day of quiet reflection and breathing can recharge your batteries to focus on the day's responsibilities. Sit outside on a nice day or repeat a positive mantra to help lower stress levels and recenter yourself on a particularly difficult day. 

Join a local support group.

A good place to start could be the website for the condition that your loved one has, such as the Alzheimer’s Association. Sympathetic friends and family may not be walking in the same shoes as you, so it can be beneficial to find people who are facing a similar situation. They can often better relate and empathize to your experience, as well as brainstorm solutions to the issues you are facing.

Line up resources.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Consider paid assistance, such as a private companion, or seek volunteers through your faith community or a network of friends and family. A couple of hours a week can give you time to run your own errands, go to the gym or take a nap. Remember that caring for yourself is vitally important to being able to care for others. If you need help aligning your personal finances, meeting with a financial professional can give you the resources and guidance you need to make informed decisions. 

Educate yourself.

Learning as much as you can about what might happen as time goes on with a loved one’s chronic disease or condition can also help you respond and cope more effectively. Being able to map out mentally what may be up ahead can allow you to determine when more support may be needed, if living arrangements will change and what decisions may be required in the future.

If you’re juggling career and family responsibilities like caring for children and aging parents, you’re part of what’s called the Sandwich Generation. Whether you’re the one feeling sandwiched or know a friend who is trying to navigate caring for loved ones.

Whether you’re the one feeling sandwiched or know a friend who is trying to navigate caring for loved ones, take our quiz  to learn more about this life stage and how to get the support you need.

Take the quiz

Want the most from your retirement? Get smarter with Smart Strategies from Athene. Your source for tips, tools and financial solutions that can help you live your best life.