Being a caregiver can be an exhausting and difficult task. It’s important to recognize caregiver burnout and cope healthily.

Understanding caregiver burnout symptoms and coping mechanisms can help make caregiving more enjoyable and fulfilling.

About 1 in 3 adults serves as an informal caregiver to another adult, like an aging parent or disabled relative. Although many find the opportunity to care for a loved one to be a privilege, it can also be demanding. Here is how to cope effectively.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion that may result in a change of attitude. The exhaustion can be physical, emotional, and/or mental. Common signs of burnout include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Sense of hopelessness, despair
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Neglecting one’s own needs
  • Feeling like one’s life revolves around caregiving
  • Growing impatient or irritable with loved ones
  • Worrying excessively about the future
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Challenges coping with everyday tasks or problems
  • Headaches, stomach aches, and other physical signs of stress
  • Getting sick easily

Tips for Coping with Caregiver Burnout

Burnout doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. Use these tips to prevent and cope with caregiver burnout.

Ask For and Accept Help

Others may desire to or be willing to help with caregiving tasks, even if only temporarily.

Set Realistic Goals

Understand that not all tasks can be done all of the time. Consider saying
“no” to extra requests and demands.

Connect with Others

Find a support group, talk to a friend regularly, and connect with others who can listen and understand.

Avoid Common Causes of Burnout

Caregiving for too many hours, not having space to process emotions, lack of sleep, and other issues are common causes of burnout. Avoid these to recover and prevent further exhaustion.

Make Time for Yourself

Make time for rebuilding and recharging—consider scheduling time for the gym, naps, doctor appointments, and self-care activities.

Home Care Tip

There are many options for caregiving. Caregivers should not feel they are the only ones who can help their loved ones because the pressure will cause or exacerbate burnout. Involve other loved ones in caregiving, find an adult day care, or consider a private aide.

Caregiving by the Numbers

Caregiving is common in the United States.

  • About 43.5 million people offer unpaid caregiving in the US
  • About 15.7 million caregivers are helping someone with memory illnesses
  • About 75% of caregivers are females
  • About 57% of caregivers perform clinical tasks
  • The average caregiver is 49 years old
  • Family caregivers spend 24.4 hours caregiving a week on average
  • 40% of caregivers are in high- burden situations

Due to the prevalence of caregiving in the US, support groups for caregivers are common. These can be helpful in preventing and coping with burnout.


Burnout Risk Factors

Caregivers are more likely to experience burnout if they:

  • Are female
  • Live with the person they are caring for
  • Are socially isolated
  • Have depression
  • Face financial difficulties
  • Spend most of their hours caregiving
  • Didn’t have much choice in caregiving options

(Mayo Clinic)