Understanding Spousal Caregiver Burnout

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Taking care of your spouse might seem like a selfless and even necessary act, but it may not always be in your best interest. You can start to feel exhausted and overwhelmed when you are a caregiver.

Guilt plays a major role in becoming a caregiver for your spouse. Ultimately, you may start to feel resentment and that can lead to more problems. That is why it is important that you ask for help.

Managing Challenges of Spousal Caregiving Amid Overwhelming Responsibilities

What is Spousal Caregiver Burnout

If you are the sole caregiver for a spouse, partner, or even a friend, you are bound to start feeling overwhelmed. Depending on the type of care they need, it can encompass your entire life.

That feeling of being overwhelmed, physically and mentally exhausted, and even resentment will start to take over. If they are elderly or need constant care, this will happen much quicker.

All too often caregivers allow guilt to settle in, as well. When that happens, you are of no use to yourself or the person you are trying to care for. If your partner is living with dementia, then it can be completely crushing.

Causes of Spousal Burnout

When you become a caregiver for your spouse, your responsibilities double. If you have been acting as a caregiver for some time, and their illness is progressive, then you will find that your burnout is already in full swing without you even noticing.

Constant care and need will take their toll. It is very often a thankless job which means anger and resentment are natural and understandable reactions to an almost impossible situation.

If you are required to care for a long period of time, have to cope with unreasonable and bad behavior, and soon find yourself with no time for yourself or others, then you are in caregiver burnout.

Do I Have Caregiver Burnout?

As mentioned, you may be already suffering from caregiver burnout long before you realize it. You may experience:

  • Mental exhaustion
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Anger
  • Not sleeping
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Self-medicating
  • Pain
  • Health issues

You may also feel like you are all alone and isolated. It is natural that you start to feel anger and resentment towards your partner. Once you start to feel like you are trapped and hopeless, it’s time to ask for help.

Asking For Help

Once you start to feel overwhelmed, it is vital that you reach out for help. You can start with your family and your partner’s family. See if someone can’t come in to relieve you and take over some of the care.

This might mean driving them to appointments, relieving you for several hours a day, or running some errands. Even if they just come over so you can take a shower and have some ‘me time’, you are lessening the burden on yourself.

You can also get professional help. Start off slowly, if you are feeling guilty about it. Have someone come in and take over the care duties that are the biggest burner to you.

Additionally, you can consider a medical alert system. This will grant your spouse quick access to assistance if needed. This added level of support enables you to prioritize your own well-being while simultaneously ensuring the safety and care of your spouse.

Taking Care of Yourself

It’s important that you take care of yourself first. If you keep on caring for someone else without taking care of yourself, your physical and mental health will suffer.

Take time to see friends and family. Do the things you like to do either with or without your spouse. When you have help in caring for your spouse, you are able to still enjoy the same things you used to do together, without the pressure and burden of care.

Asking for help is the best way to help yourself. Don’t let spousal burnout ruin you and your relationship. Get the help you need so you can continue to care for each other in the same way you always have. Don’t let guilt drive you to the point of exhaustion.