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Signs You Could Be Experiencing Compassion Fatigue

Nov 9, 2018 by The Crafty Caregiver

Have you heard the term “compassion fatigue?” It’s commonly used to describe a condition occurring in caregivers who have been aiding a person with injuries, trauma, or illness. When someone cares for others, he or she can be vulnerable to related chronic stress and subsequently, suffer from the loving care being provided. Regardless of motivation and love, a caregiver taking care of someone elderly, ill, or incapacitated in some way can suffer an enormous amount of pressure mentally, physically and emotionally.


Compassion fatigue may at a glance seem similar to burnout, but the onset can be sudden and unpredictable. Burnout usually emerges over a considerable length of time and severe burnout may cause someone to vacate his or her job, or even the occupation, for a long period of time or permanently. Compassion fatigue, fortunately, can be treated before the environment needs to be changed when recognized in time.


It’s vitally important for caregivers to take time to recharge themselves. Mother Theresa, known for her compassion and caring work, understood compassion fatigue and she made it mandatory for the helpers working around her to take at least one full year off every 4 or 5 years to heal from their emotional and physical work.


Compassion fatigue can cause pain and suffering, so the first and most important step for someone caring for another person is to learn to recognize symptoms and how to manage or avoid it from ever occurring. If you are presently a caregiver, proactively ask for assistance before the situation gets worse for you or your loved one.


How to recognize compassion fatigue? Below are a dozen common symptoms:

  1. Exhaustion (emotional and/or physical
  2. Feelings of inequity toward the caregiver relationship
  3. Loss of meaning in caregiving
  4. Withdrawal, isolation, or feelings of being disconnected
  5. Feelings of dread, impending disaster or guilt
  6. Apathy or a lower threshold for compassion or empathy
  7. Problems arising in other relationships
  8. Difficulty sleeping
  9. Anger, irritability, anxiety
  10. Weight loss
  11. Destructive behaviors or substance abuse
  12. Unexplained headaches


Although you may love the person you care for, that isn’t usually enough to prevent compassion fatigue. At Comfort Keepers®, we fully understand the demands of caring for people with chronic illness, aging adults, or anyone recuperating from a surgery, illness or accident. Comfort Keepers® offers caregiving services, respite care, and senior care services.


Don’t hesitate to get the help you need for yourself and your loved one. You can contact us anytime to talk to us about your home care needs in Maple Grove.

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