07 Jun Carers Breakdown Symptoms
10 Carer Fatigue Warning Signs to Watch Out For
“When a loved one depends on you, you just carry on. It feels like there isn’t any choice, even if you know your reserves are getting more and more depleted. And if I stop being able to cope, what will happen then?”
Family carers rarely choose to take on their role; many of the carers we work with at Bedfordshire Supported Housing feel that they had no choice but to provide support for loved ones. As a result, they find themselves caring for a parent with dementia, or a spouse with mental health needs, with no training or support structures to help them get through from day to day.
In research carried out by CarersUK, almost half of carers asked admitted to having fallen ill but continued caring because they saw no other option. Often carers breakdown symptoms occur behind closed doors, and few people realise how overwhelming these symptoms can feel.
Typical Trigger Points for Carer Fatigue
When you’re in the thick of caring for a parent, spouse or child, every day can feel the same. Except they’re not, and many unpaid carers talk about ‘trigger points’ which have tipped them into being unable to cope. Typically, these could take the form of:
- A physical change, such as a stroke.
- Your loved one becoming incontinent.
- Problems with eating, regular hydration, or taking medication.
- Challenging behaviour leading to physical injury.
- Sleep being interrupted regularly.
Carers Breakdown Symptoms
It can take a while for carers to realise that there’s a problem. It’s no surprise really, given that all their energy is focused on caring for someone they love, with very little attention given to themselves. The BSH team has come up with 10 danger signals we’ve witnessed over the years:
- You feel consistently low and can’t see any way out of your situation.
- Any personal symptoms of potential ill health are ignored – there’s no time to deal with them.
- Tiredness is a constant; you wake up feeling tired.
- The physical requirements of caring are causing you muscular pain.
- Anxiety seems to be on a loop, with your worries playing over and over.
- Sleep is light and broken.
- You’re finding it difficult to come to terms with the deterioration of the person you’re caring for.
- There’s no time to cook for yourself, or you prefer to snack.
- You’ve noticed that you’re drinking more alcohol.
- You feel isolated, and you can’t think of anyone who could help.
What To Do If You Are Feeling Overwhelmed
If you could tick the box of more than one of the danger signals above, it’s time to take action. This may feel like a weakness or failure but in fact it’s a rational response in the face of such responsibility. After all, should you become incapacitated, how would everyone cope then?
There are a number of things you can do:
- Contact your GP, explain your caring situation and describe the symptoms you’re experiencing.
- Reach out to friends and family. They may not realise how bad you’re feeling. Once they do, they may be able to offer practical support.
- Get respite care. Respite care can be provided by your family, a charity, or a homecare provider. This will give you time each week, or a few days’ uninterrupted break to recharge.
- Contact CarersUK or Carers Trust for advice, guidance, or links to a forum you could join.
- Give up on the idea that doing more will help.
- Find just 5 minutes each day for a moment of personal mindfulness, meditation, or just deep breathing.
About Bedfordshire Supported Housing
BSH works with family carers every day, and we cannot tell you how great the job is that you do. Our aim is to offer support where we can, in the form of weekly scheduled home care, or longer respite breaks. Why not give us a call and we can have an informal chat about clearing some time for you to recharge?
Bedfordshire Supported Housing offer home care, live-in care, palliative care, and respite breaks. Call us on 01234 841808 to find out more about what we do.