Caregiver burnout is a real concern among parents of children with special needs who are, in most cases, the primary caregivers of their children with special needs. Caring full-time for their children with special needs can be mentally and physically taxing on parents, and can lead to caregiver burnout, especially in the absence of adequate self-care and support.
Risk factors for caregiver burnout:
- Being the primary caregiver for your child
- Lack of emotional and physical support
- Lack of self-care
- Lack of coping skills
- Social isolation
- Marital problems
- Financial difficulties
Signs of caregiver burnout:
- Feeling helpless and hopeless
- Feeling anxious and overwhelmed
- Feeling sad and lonely
- Feeling irritable and angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Being unable to take care of yourself and your child
- Wanting to hurt yourself or your child
- Gaining or losing weight
- Sleeping too much or too less
- Having headaches and body aches
- Falling sick often
Checklist to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
Here are some things you can do to avoid caregiver burnout:
- Ask for help – Everyone needs help. Don’t hesitate to ask for it when you need it. Enlist the help of your partner and family members to take care of your child, or explore other options like day care, respite care, or hiring a nanny or a nurse to look after your child. If it’s difficult to delegate your child’s care to others, delegate other responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and other household chores.
- Take care of yourself – You can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. You can do so by practicing self-compassion, taking breaks, doing things that you love, socialising, eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep and rest.
- Have realistic expectations – You are only human. Know, acknowledge, respect and work with your limitations. Have realistic expectations from yourself and be kind to yourself if you are not able to meet them.
- Set realistic goals – Taking care of a child with special needs is like running a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to set realistic goals, not just for your child, but also for yourself. Be sure to pace yourself so that you are able to sustain yourself in the long run.
- Celebrate the wins – Parenting a child with special need can feel like a never-ending series of battles with more losses than wins. That’s why it’s important to celebrate your child’s and your wins, no matter how small they might seem. Every achievement is a big achievement when it comes to raising a child with special needs so be sure to pat your child’s and your back when you achieve something.
- Join support groups – Parenting a child with special needs can be a very lonely journey because no one in your life understands what it’s like to be a parent to a child with special needs. Joining parent support groups is a great way to connect with others going through the same journey so that you don’t feel alone anymore. You can join Nayi Disha parent support groups to connect with other parents here.
If you think you might be suffering from caregiver burnout, please talk to your doctor or a mental healthcare professional for further help.
You can read more about caregiver self-care here:
- Caregiver stress management – Taking care of yourself
- Parent self-care – How to look after your mental health when your child has a developmental disability?
- Being a special parent and parenting ‘care-fully’
If you have questions about Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, or other intellectual disabilities, or have concerns about developmental delays in a child, the Nayi Disha team is here to help. For any questions or queries, please contact our FREE Helpline at 844-844-8996. You can call or WhatsApp us.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this article is for information purposes only. If you require professional counselling or any medical help please consult a qualified practitioner for immediate guidance and support.