What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiving is hard work and it can often seem never-ending. Caregiver burnout is a natural occurrence, where one may feel physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. These feelings can happen for many reasons:

  • you don’t have the help you need 

  • you think you can do more than you actually can  

  • you’re not able to admit your own limitations

  • you believe its your responsibility to do everything for your loved one

  • you feel you’re letting your loved one down if you ask for outside help

  • you believe you’re the only one who can properly care for your loved one 

  • you feel guilty if you spend any time on yourself

  • you don’t know where to turn for help

What can I do about caregiver burnout?

Ask for and accept help. This is a difficult step to take when you’ve been the one person responsible for your loved one’s care, but knowing when to ask for help shows your loved one that you want the best care for her/him and you can’t do that by yourself.  

  • talk to our social worker about resources and strategies to help ease your load such as respite services that we can coordinate for you 

  • join a support group where you share your feelings and concerns with others experiencing the same things 

  • ask family members and friends for help with regular errands like grocery shopping and store runs  

  • check out your employer’s family leave benefits if you work outside the home 


Be your own caregiver.  Who’s taking care of you? You’re a better caregiver when you’re physically and mentally healthy: 

  • take breaks and naps when you can – the dishes, laundry, bills and phone calls will still be there when you’re more rested  

  • schedule and keep appointments with your dentist and doctors 

  • eat healthy foods and avoid consuming too much caffeine and alcohol 

  • get a massage if your body is feeling the stress in your back, neck and joints

  • make an appointment to see a counselor or contact your Employee Assistance Program for support if you’re working outside the home  

  • meditate, pray, exercise


You’re not in this alone.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Please check all of the statements that apply to you:

  • Having trouble sleeping (insomnia, nightmares)

  • Feeling tired all the time (even after a nap or a full night’s sleep)

  • Gaining or losing significant weight

  • Increasing consumption of alcohol, drugs, nicotine, sugar, caffeine, food

  • Feeling depressed  (hopeless, self-doubting, sad, indecisive, tired, irritable, no life pleasures, empty)

  • Feeling impatient and frustrated with loved one and others (emotional outbursts, dissatisfaction, anger)

  • Withdrawing from activities and social life

  • Overreacting (to criticism, small accidents,  interruptions,  disappointments)

  • Feeling like there is nothing to laugh about or enjoy anymore

  • Feeling alone even with others around

  • Feeling like caregiving is your entire life

  • Coping with health issues (lethargy, backaches, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive problems)

  • Feeling your life has no meaning or purpose

  • Resenting your loved one’s situation

  • Neglecting or mistreating your loved one

  • Feeling trapped in your life

  • Feeling like this is not your life

  • Thinking of escape (running away, suicide)


If you checked four or more of these statements, your loved one may benefit from hospice care.


You may want to print this worksheet and use it to start a discussion with your doctor about healthcare options for your loved one. 


Finding the right help for the person you love often begins with a simple conversation. 


Hear from a Caregiver


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Washington, DC 20009


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