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    Are You on Your Way to Caregiver Burnout?

    It's easy to understand how it can happen. You go all out to take care of your loved one, but miss the signs that you're pushing yourself too hard. Before you know it, exhaustion, stress, and other symptoms of burnout start to take hold.

    Learn the warning signals so you can keep yourself healthy while you give your loved one the help he needs.

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    What Are the Symptoms?

    They're similar to the ones for stress and depression. You may notice some of these things happening to you:

    • Withdraw from friends and family
    • Lose interest in activities you used to enjoy
    • Feel blue and irritable
    • Have a change in your appetite or weight
    • Your sleep patterns get out of whack
    • Get sick more often

    You may have an overall sense of emotional and physical exhaustion.

    What Causes It?

    A lot of times it can start when you're so busy as a caregiver that you neglect your own emotional and physical health. And it's not surprising why this can happen. The demands of taking care of your loved one might seem overwhelming at times, and bring on fatigue and a feeling of hopelessness.

    Other causes of caregiver burnout you need to watch out for include:

    Expectations are too high: Like a lot of caregivers, you may think your efforts will have a big, positive impact on your loved one's health and happiness -- but this may not always be realistic.

    Lack of control: Many caregivers become frustrated if they don't have the money, resources, and skills to plan, manage, and organize their loved one's care.

    Put unreasonable demands on yourself: Sometimes you take on more caregiving responsibilities than you can handle.

    How Can I Avoid Burnout?

    Take steps to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed:

    Confide in someone you trust. Talk to a friend, coworker, or neighbor about your feelings and frustrations.

    Set realistic goals for yourself.  Accept that you may need help with caregiving, and turn to others for help with some tasks.

    Don't forget about yourself. Though you're busy caring for someone else, set aside time for your own needs, even if it's just an hour or two. Keep in mind that taking care of yourself isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

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