Several social work courses in college and multiple experiences have left me convinced that every instructor I had was right—well, at least about this one thing: every caregiver needs regular breaks. I don’t just mean a regular annual vacation—though that is important, too—but steady, weekly breaks. If these aren’t daily, they should be at least weekly—bi-weekly at the very least.
When you don’t give yourself a break, lots of things can happen. In some cases, the burnout may affect the patient—whether he or she is an invalid, an elderly person, or a child or adult with developmental delays. He or she will pick up on your distress, and in extreme circumstances, the caregiver may even become harsh or violent.
But in most cases, this burnout heavily wears on the caregiver. Exhaustion and depression can result. Some people may even end up needing hospitalization themselves after such a lengthy time caring for another individual so one-sidedly—whether it’s complete round the clock care or even daily living assistance. As with caring with children, caregivers must be always “on,” and living like you’re walking on eggshells every day will eventually cause you to crack.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prevent burnout. Here are just a few of them.