Caregiver Burnout: The Care Gap
Updated: May 19
In recent years the term burnout has come to the forefront of the healthcare industry. There have been myriad articles about how doctors, nurses, and clinicians are burnt out from the stressors of the healthcare industry. However, family caregivers have not received the same amount of attention. In the United States, 1 in 5 Americans, or approximately 43.5 million people are unpaid caregivers giving care to an adult or dependent child. Being an unpaid caregiver means that the individual may need to supplement their income in order to survive. When an individual is juggling multiple responsibilities the risk of burnout becomes high.
Caregiver burnout is a stress response that is defined as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Burnout can look differently for different people, however; typical symptoms include withdrawal from friends and family, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, changes in appetite (both overeating or undereating), overusing substances like alcohol or sleep medication, as well as emotional and physical exhaustion. Caregiver burnout can be caused by several factors - some of which are lack of control, unreasonable demands, unrealistic expectations and also being sandwiched between caring for both a parent and a child.
Caregiver Burnout has been further exacerbated by COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, professional care workers saw an increase of 5.6 turnover rate from causes like burnout, and inadequate compensation (Frogner & Dill, 2022). In comparison, 13% of Americans became a caregiver for the first time. Caregivers all over the country began struggling with not only being a caregiver, but also having the line blurred between being the spouse, sibling, child, or parent and being the caregiver. They often feel a lack of control over their lives because being a caregiver became their primary responsibility. The demands of being a caregiver may have become more challenging with the additional layer that shelter in place added by being at home or with their loved one 24/7. Given the tremendous amount of unpaid caregivers and more individuals providing care each day, there is a critical need for more support systems.
At Mellie, we have designed a service and platform dedicated to caregivers to ensure that they are getting all the help they need to ease the difficulty of caregiving. Mellie provides caregivers with a customizable care plan, curated resources, a communication platform for the care team, as well as access to a knowledgeable care coordinator to provide education about the healthcare system and to support the caregiver in implementing the care plan.
Contact us to learn more about how we can support you as a caregiver and take a look at one of our Caregiver Well-Being resources.