While a caregiver shouldn’t ever “give up” on a loved one, there is a point when the job starts to negatively impact their own physical, mental or emotional health due to high levels of stress or burnout. When you get to this point you should consider outside help such as a home care provider, adult day care, or senior living. 

Caregivers tend to focus solely on the person they’re caring for and may neglect their own health and personal needs. This can increase an individual’s risk for poor emotional and physical health outcomes, which can interfere with their ability to effectively care for another person. Declining health can also disrupt other responsibilities, such as working or taking care of their own household, causing even more stress. 

It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience caregiver burnout, which is the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that can occur when caring for another person. Being constantly responsible for someone else’s needs can cause worry and stress that builds up over time and may result in sleep problems, emotional outbursts and social isolation. If these symptoms start occurring regularly, it may be time to reduce your role and/or pursue other care options for your loved one. 

How to Alleviate Caregiver Stress

To alleviate caregiver stress such as fatigue or other physical symptoms, it’s important to listen to your body and take a break instead of trying to push through. You can try reaching out to other family members or friends for help. This can give you time to relax, take care of your own health needs and consider whether you can realistically continue being a caregiver. During this break, find time to visit your doctor to discuss any concerning medical issues or seek professional help from a therapist or caregiver support group for stress management. 

Support groups can provide a safe and constructive environment to express your wants and needs or learn new coping skills for stress or burnout. Discovering healthy emotional outlets, such as journaling or exercising, can also improve an individual’s overall physical and mental health. Ultimately, having a safe place to vent and time alone to relax and process your feelings can help you alleviate stress and decide whether it’s time to pass the caregiving duties to someone else. 

Talking to a Loved One About Alternative Care Options

Talk to a loved one about alternative care options if you decide you can no longer care for an elderly loved one. This can be a tough conversation to have, but it’s important to be honest about your feelings and communicate how this change is beneficial to everyone. Make it clear that your loved one’s health and well-being is still a priority and allow them to partake in decisions regarding which care option is best for them. 

It may be helpful to conduct research on alternative care options before initiating a conversation. You can reference different care types while talking to your relative and explain the services and perks offered so they can make informed decisions. This extra preparation also shows your loved one that you aren’t abandoning them but ensuring they receive the appropriate care for their needs.