Taking on the role of a caregiver can be physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing.  It’s a time-consuming job that weighs on a person, even when they are ‘off the clock’. They’ve invested so much in caring for someone else that they may forget to care about themselves and other relationships.

A caregiver appreciates coming home to a partner who cares about them. It can be hard to tell if they are becoming burnt out from all the added stresses of caregiving? The good news is that you can help alleviate the stress. 

Here’s what to look for and how to best offer your support. 

Typical Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Withdrawal from friends and family  
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feeling resentful
  • Drinking more alcohol
  • Changes in appetite

How to support your spouse to help prevent caregiver burnout?

Let them vent.

Putting your time, heart and passion into caring for someone whose condition is declining and may not show appreciation for the help is frustrating. Sometimes just venting about what is going on and expressing feelings can be a huge relief to the caregiver. You can show your support by lending a judgement free ear. 

Be a cheerleader.

Remind them what a wonderful job they are doing. They may not be getting any acknowledgment from the loved one they are caring for (and may even be getting negativity), so it’s nice to hear some encouraging words.  

Offer your help.

Your spouse would appreciate and deserves that much-needed break, even a small one. Ask if there is a task you can do for them that would make their life a little easier, like grocery shopping, doing laundry, or household chores. 

Make sure they’re getting in some self-care. 

With so much on their plate, your spouse may not have time to worry about a balanced diet or getting to sleep at a decent time. Encourage them to head to bed at a decent hour. Be OK with something being held off until tomorrow. Prepare or have handy healthy snacks and plenty of water vs the easy fast food option. All of this will make them feel more energized, healthier, and happier. 

Indulge in your partner’s favorite activity. 

What activities does your spouse enjoy? Going out to the movies, putting together a puzzle, dinner at a restaurant, playing a game of tennis? Not only will your spouse be doing something they love, but it will also take their mind off the added stress of caregiving, allowing them the much needed time to recharge their own batteries. 

If you or your spouse is feeling burnt out, or you are noticing any of the signs listed above suggest a local support group that understands what they are going through or talk to a professional. There may come a point when your spouse should consider alternative care options. Here are resources for when you can no longer play the role of caregiver