Some caregivers have very high expectations for themselves. They may perceive any inability to cope as a signal that they have failed. Caregivers may continue struggling under unbearable conditions even when their own health suffers. For others, stress levels build gradually, and as a result, they do not realize when they have taken on too much.
Here is a list of common danger signals that indicate a caregiver may be approaching overload. If they seem familiar to you, it is time to seek assistance. There are many types of support that may be available in your area. Some examples include local support groups, helplines, individual counseling or coaching, and evidence-based workshops targeted towards caregivers.
- Your relative’s condition is worsening despite your best efforts.
- No matter what you do, it isn’t enough.
- You feel you are the only person in the world enduring this.
- You no longer have any time or place to be alone, even for a brief respite.
- Things you used to do occasionally to help out are now part of your daily routine.
- Family relationships are breaking down because of the caregiving pressures.
- Your caregiving duties are interfering with your work and social life to an unacceptable degree.
- You’re continuing on in a no-win situation because stopping to you would feel like a failure.
- You realize you’re all alone and doing it all because you’ve shut out everyone who has offered to help.
- You refuse to think of yourself because “that would be selfish” even though you are unselfish 99% of the time.
- Your coping methods are causing harm: you’re overeating, undereating, abusing drugs or alcohol, smoking (or smoking more), or taking things out on your relative.
- There are no more happy times, loving and caring have given way to exhaustion and resentment, and you no longer feel good about yourself or take pride in what you’re doing.