What is Caregiver Burnout?

By NHCOA. This article originally appeared on the NHCOA blog.

Credit: NHCOA

The caregiver syndrome refers to those people who suffer physical, psychological, and general health exhaustion due to the constant and continuous care of a patient.

Caregiver burnout—also known as caregiver stress or caregiver syndrome—was first described by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. The mental health professional worked in a clinic for drug addicts in New York and observed that most of the volunteers at the clinic had a progressive loss of energy, leading to exhaustion, symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as lack of motivation at work and aggressiveness with patients after a year of working.

This is a disorder with serious implications both physically and psychologically. Caregivers are at risk of experiencing episodes of stress of varying intensity. The stress of caregivers is higher than that of other professions, due to the fact that they are largely faced with pain and human suffering on a daily basis.

To prevent caregiver burnout before it’s too late, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Physical symptoms such as tiredness or muscle aches
  • Emotional lability or sudden mood swings
  • Sleep problems or weight gain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Isolation
  • Frustration
  • Cognitive difficulties: memory problems, attention, etc.

Caregivers, whether family members or professionals, play the role of primary caregiver for a dependent person, and are usually given the responsibility of coping with whatever the situation requires. This is particularly true among Hispanic women, who are often the heart of their homes. In a cultural context, Latinas grow up being cared for by women, and grow up to fulfill that role with subsequent generations.

Therefore, it is necessary to recognize the need to watch over caregivers, regardless of their sex, so that they can enjoy an optimal state of health while carrying out their work. It’s important that they are able to develop in other areas of their lives outside of caregiving. NHCOA directs all its efforts to improve the quality of life of older adults, their families, and caregivers, and through spaces such as our seminar “Caring for the Caregiver”, we seek to create awareness about the importance of caring for all the people who are dedicated to this noble and important work, as well as giving them the tools so that they can carry out this work without sacrificing their mental and physical health.

Sources:

Rioja Salud:

https://escuelapacientes.riojasalud.es/files/erc/cuidando-cuidador/cuidando-al-cuidador-04.pdf

Revista de la Universidad Industrial de Santander

http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0121-08072015000200010

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.