Informal caregivers and the risk of stress and burnout

While your role as caregiver is essential for the patient, it can also have negative repercussions on your life and health if you don’t take proper care of yourself. There are a number of organizations that are there to help, but first you have to determine your needs and recognize when you need help.

Determine your needs

By pinpointing the exact causes of your stress, you’ll be able to seek out the support you need. 

The most common cause tends to be the feeling of always being short on time. It’s also the stressor for which technology can be a big help. Nowadays you can have medication or meals delivered to your door with the click of a mouse. There are also numerous organizations that offer homecare services that allow you to take a few hours off for yourself. 

Other needs may be harder to identify or may require more specialized assistance:

  • Lack of appropriate training to provide medical care 
  • Management of the patient’s assets and expenses 
  • Conflicts with the patient or with other family members

Your local CIUSSS team and your pharmacist are your go-to healthcare contacts. Be sure to contact them if you have any questions.

Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout

When the burden on caregivers becomes too great, they risk burning out. If you recognize yourself in the following statements, it’s time to take a break and get the help you need:

  • I am impatient and easily irritable.
  • I feel exhausted.
  • I have trouble concentrating.
  • I’m sleeping less than usual.
  • I’m not as hungry or, conversely, I eat all the time. 
  • I feel overwhelmed by the situation.
  • I feel guilty that I’m not able to do more or that I’m not keeping up with my other tasks and responsibilities.

Where can I find help?

Informal caregivers sometimes feel they’re the only person able to look after the patient. If other family members offer to help out, take them up on it! 

Otherwise, look up one of the many community organizations that offer a range of services, sometimes at little or no cost. Call 211 for information on community organizations in the Greater Montreal Area (211.qc.ca) and in the Capitale-nationale and Chaudières-Appalaches regions (211quebecregions.ca). For other regions in Quebec, consult the website of your town or city, or the CIUSSS serving your region.


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