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​​Caregiver Burnout​

Caregiving can be a rewarding journey as you provide care for your loved one. But dealing with the demands can be challenging. As a caregiver, you can experience role strain, which is when you find it difficult to perform your role optimally, or find yourself stressed by situations.

Effects of Chronic Stress

Prolonged caregiver stress can lead to problems with your physical and emotional wellbeing. Chronic stress releases stress hormones that lead to exhaustion, irritability, a weakened immune system, sleep disturbances, digestive distress, headaches, and changes in weight.

Factors that can contribute to caregiver burnout are:

  • Role confusion

    Many caregivers are often thrust into the role of caring, disrupting the other roles or commitments that you have such as caring for younger children, or working. It can also be confusing to distinguish your role as a caregiver from being a spouse, child, relative, or friend to your loved one.

  • Lack of control

    It is common for caregivers to feel uncertain about the progression of the disease, their ability to address the care needs at different points of the care journey, the options for treatment or support available, and financial choices and concessions. These lead to frustration and and a sense of helplessness.

  • Unrealistic expectations

    Even with modern medicine, not all diseases are reversible. Your seniors will find it harder to recover to the state that they were in before they fell sick. When the condition of your senior deteriorates, you may find it hard to accept or blame yourself for not doing enough. You may expect yourself to bear the sole responsibility of caring and feel distress when you are unable to manage the demand.

Caregivers' Stress Checklist

Let’s check your stress level. There is no right or wrong answer. Please tick the response that best applies to you and add up the points.

In the last two weeks, have you been… 
Yes / No

Feeling more unhappy or resentful about looking after your care recipient?
Yes = 1 Point
No = 0 Point
Having less energy to complete your daily tasks?
Having less interest in attending or participating in social events?
Deriving less interest from your favourite activities?
Getting angry very quickly?
Feeling tired more of the time?
Spending less time on yourself as compared to before?
Feeling less motivated to get up in the morning?

If you answered “yes” to the above statements, you are likely to be feeling more stressed than usual. Should these feelings persist, seek advice from your family doctor or professionals involved in the care of your care recipient.

Call Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) at 1800-221-4444 (24hrs) if you are thinking of suicide or harming yourself. If you know of someone who is in immediate harm, call Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) at 995.

Tips to Help You Cope

You are not alone in your caregiving journey. Here are some general tips to help you cope:

Manage Your Tasks Better

  • Break the tasks into smaller parts and set realistic goals.
  • Make a list of important tasks and set up a care routine. Reach out for help if you encounter limitations.

Get Support from Your Family

  • Recognise your own strengths and capabilities. Gather your family members to discuss and delegate tasks to reduce the caregiving burden on yourself.

Enhance your Skills and Knowledge

  • Attend caregiver training to learn important techniques such as personal care of a bedbound elderly or meaningful engagement with persons with dementia.
  • Gather information about your loved one’s illness, its management, progression and treatment options. The more you know, the more empowered you will be in making decisions and planning ahead.

Plan Your Finances

  • Budget your expenses.
  • Check out the various financial assistance schemes that can defray the cost of care.
  • If you have financial difficulties, talk to a social worker about grants and schemes.

Learn about Community Care Resources

  • Know the care support and services available that can meet your elderly care needs.
  • Participate in support groups to learn more from other caregivers and exchange caregiving tips.

Practise Self-care

  • Be aware of caregiver stress and burnout signs. Learn more about self-care tips.
  • Consider respite options to take a break from caregiving

Seek Professional Advice

  • Consult your healthcare professionals about the disease progression, care option for your elderly and managing care at home. You can also approach them if you feel overwhelmed with your caregiving duties.
  • Speak to a counsellor to help in managing your emotions.

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