Caregiver Burnout: What You Can Do About It

“Alice has been taking care of her dad since a work accident left him bedridden. At first, she was glad that she was able to take care of him. He was a wonderful father and she was happy she could give back this way. Six months later, Alice was struggling. She was tired all the time, had a permanent headache, and couldn’t remember the last time she spoke to her friends.” 


Caring for a loved one is a sacrifice of love that is very fulfilling but which can also be stressful. Caregiving tends to be a long-term situation and over time, caregivers may find that they are unable to muster up the energy and motivation needed for the task. This is known as caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout can be defined as a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion experienced by people providing care for others.

If caregiver burnout is left unmanaged, it can lead to mental difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and even physical symptoms such as hypertension. At this point, both the caregiver and their ward are affected. 

What can you do to prevent or relieve caregiver burnout?  

Delegate caregiving activities 

Caregiving involves a myriad of activities that can be overwhelming to shoulder alone. As a caregiver, you should look into ways to split this work among family members or with a hired help. Ask family members for help with splitting the financial costs, running errands, or performing tasks such as doing laundry, cooking, or cleaning the house. On the other hand, you could look into respite care. Respite care can be done by a professional for specified hours each day in the house or by checking the individual into a home where they can receive 24/7 care. 


Focus on the things within your control 

There are a thousand situations that arise in the caregiving space, some of them within your control and some of them, out of it. You can’t control how quickly the person gets better, the passage of time, the attitude of other people towards the situation, or the fact that they are sick in the first place. But you can control how you react to these situations. Things such as ensuring you and your ward are well-fed, that they are comfortable, that they are receiving the right medication/therapy are all within your control. 

Big tasks can also appear challenging and out of control. You can break large tasks into smaller chunks that make them easy to manage. Instead of thinking “I have to clean the house.” Focus on doing the dishes, then washing the curtains, then vacuuming the bedroom, then the living room, and before you know it, you are done. 

Take care of yourself

You need to remember that “you cannot pour out of an empty cup”. If you aren't in good health, you won’t be able to care for anyone, much less handle the stress and challenges of caregiving. Try to schedule regular medical appointments, carve out some time to exercise, and ensure you are eating well and that your diet is balanced, schedule time to talk to friends and indulge in your hobbies.  If the situation gets too overwhelming, talk to a counsellor, psychologist, religious figure, or any professional that can help you find peace and clarity.


Caregiving can be a long-term event that lasts years and even decades. Although fulfilling, it can be highly stressful and affect your physical and mental health, emotions, and relationships. It’s important to manage burnout by finding ways to de-stress and take care of yourself. 


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