Caregivers: Are you burned out yet? |

Caregivers: Are you burned out yet?

by Joyce Hollister

November has been designated as National Caregivers’ Month in order to raise awareness about the issues facing family caregivers and reducing the burnout they frequently experience.

According to Martie Graham-Jones of the Family Support Council, statistics show that there are more than 25 million family caregivers in America, and 59 percent of the adult population either is or expects to be a family caregiver.

Caregivers may be nursing an elderly spouse who is ill or taking care of a disabled child.

As can be expected, burnout for family caregivers is a common and highly stressful result of trying to care for someone at home often, with little or no help or relief.

A survey by the National Family Caregivers Association shows that more people enter nursing homes because of caregiver burnout rather than an exacerbation of their own condition; approximately three quarters of all caregivers are women; the value of services family caregivers provide is estimated to be $196 billion a year.

In addition, heavy duty caregivers, especially spousal caregivers, do not get consistent help from other family members. One study has shown that as many as three quarters of these are trying to do it alone.

Sixty-one percent of “intense” family caregivers have suffered from depression, another study shows.

Graham-Jones has established a new caregivers group in Carson Valley and some of the comments she has received from participants range from “I did not realize that others share the same feeling” to “I have never told anyone else I feel this way. They just wouldn’t understand.”

Among the signs that caregivers are experiencing burnout are:

– The caregiver’s circle of friends is shrinking.

– He or she participates less in previously enjoyed hobbies.

– He or she feels a loss of privacy.

– Job and or relationships are strained due to caregiving responsibilities.

– The caregiver exhibits signs of depression.

Graham-Jones suggests that caregivers should to look for a solution to the highest stressor they are experiencing and to accept feelings of guilt and exhaustion – these are normal.

Caregivers must learn to ask for help from family and friends and join a support group. Respite care for the one being cared for can give caregivers a much needed break.

“Remember, you are no good to anyone if you are so burned out you cannot function,” she said.

“Hearing about others’ problems has helped me put my situation into perspective,” is the kind of comment that a good support group can draw from participants.

The new support group meets the last Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Summerville at Virginia Creek.

For more information, call Graham-Jones at 782-8692. Graham-Jones has an extensive background in caregiving, having cared for her terminally ill husband and worked several years in a residential care home.