Caregiver Syndrome: another form of Burnout
What is Caregiver Syndrome and why does it appear in caregivers of dependent persons?
The Caregiver Syndrome arises in those people who play the role of main caregiver of a dependent person. It is characterized by both physical and mental exhaustion, with a picture similar to that of work-related stress or "Burnout".
What is Caregiver Syndrome?
It is manifested by those caregivers in charge of people who require constant help due to some degree of neurological or psychiatric alteration or deficiency, such as some type of dementia.
In most cases, the decision to become a caregiver is usually imposed by circumstances, without a deliberate process.without a deliberate decision-making process. Therefore, these people suddenly face a new situation for which they are unprepared and which consumes most of their time and energy, to the point of becoming the center of their lives.
Changes occurring in the caregiver's life
The caregiver's life changes radically as a result of the demand required. His or her new responsibility requires a profound transformation of his or her way of life and quality of life.In general, no one is prepared to live 24 hours a day with a person (usually a loved relative) who is progressively deteriorating day by day. This situation will most likely generate deep affective and emotional reactions: sadness, tension, anger, guilt, frustration, bewilderment... which are so often suffered by those who perform these care functions.
Some of the changes that occur in their lives in the short and long term:
- Family relationships (new roles, obligations, conflicts,...)
- Labor (abandonment or absenteeism, increase of expenses,...)
- Free time (decrease of time dedicated to leisure, interpersonal relationships, etc.) (decrease of time dedicated to leisure, interpersonal relationships,...)
- Health (problems of tiredness, sleep and appetite disturbance, ...)
- Changes in mood (feelings of sadness, irritability, guilt, worry, anxiety, stress...).
Causes of Caregiver Syndrome
Caregiver stress arises mainly from the different ways of perceiving the needs of the patient, the investment of time, resources, conflicts between their expectations and the rest of the family members, feelings of guilt...
On many occasions, the conflict arises from the inability to meet the needs of the patient, the family and personal needs.family and personal needs. It is very common for the caregiver to give up areas of his or her social and work life given the needs of the person in his or her care.
Some signs of caregiver syndrome disorder
It is important for family members and friends of the primary caregiver to be aware of a number of symptoms that may indicate the presence of the disorder:
- Increased irritability and "aggressive" behaviors toward others
- Tension against auxiliary caregivers (they do not attend to the patient correctly)
- Depressive or anxious symptomatology.
- Impatience with the caregiver.
- Social isolation.
- Physical problemsheadaches, anguish, gastric problems, palpitations...
It is as important to take care as it is to take care of ourselves; this will allow us to continue providing help in the best possible conditions, without burning out.
It is essential that:
- Look for moments to relax. There is a relationship between inner tension and outer or body tension. When you are nervous your body tenses up. It is common to notice a knot in the stomach, or a tightness in the chest, or have a tense jaw or neck, or your face becomes red, etc.
- Get enough rest and sleep. enough sleep.
- Organize your time better so that you can continue to do some of the activities and hobbies you have always enjoyed (going to the movies, going for a walk, going to the gym, knitting,...).
- Learn to ask for help and delegate functions. It is impossible that, without help, you will be able to carry out as many tasks as you did before caring for your relative, and in the same way.
- Don't feel guilty about laughing or having a good time.If you are happy, it will be easier for you to cope.
- Take care of your physical appearanceThis will improve your psychological well-being.
- Avoid self-medication..
- Communicate and express your feelings other family members.
- Reach agreements. All members should cooperate in the care of the dependent family member.
- Be assertive. It is important to treat the dependent person and other family members in a friendly and communicative manner. This will avoid misunderstandings and everyone will be more willing to help.
- Work on empathy. Putting ourselves in the other person's shoes can help us to understand his or her point of view and behavior.
- Manage emotions. It is necessary to know how to control feelings such as anger or frustration.
- Work on cognitive stimulation of dependent people.. To do this, it is necessary to practice reading with them, talk about everyday events so that they have a sense of reality and remember old stories and reminiscences that stimulate their memory.
- Say "no" to the excessive demands from the dependent person.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)