What can you do to #ChallengeALS


Coping With Burnout

caregiver burnout

Being a caregiver of someone with ALS is a very important role. It usually involves a number of tasks that can be very time consuming, and can require a great deal of effort. If we do not learn to recognize that certain tasks and expectations can take their toll on us, regardless of what role(s) we play in life, we may find ourselves headed down the path of burnout. Burnout can be defined as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress. Burnout may also be as subtle as simply no longer feeling "connected" to what it is we are doing. This can apply to a number of situations, such as the workplace, with family, or activities with a group we belong to. A key to guarding against burnout is to be willing to take a close look at our lives, in order to become more conscious of our thoughts and behaviors. Some practical questions to ask ourselves are, "What causes burnout?", "How do I know if I am burning out?" and "What can I do to prevent burnout?". We will attempt to answer these three very important questions...

Common Causes of Burnout

A perfectionist continually focuses on what needs to be improved, rather than what has been accomplished. When this becomes our focus, we may never feel that we have succeeded at anything.
Never-ending tasks:
Never-ending tasks describe work that appears to lack both a beginning and end. This can lead us to feel as if we have no closure, and therefore have not completed anything.
Work overload:
Work overload is when we have more work to do than we can complete in a given amount of time. When we operate this way, we set ourselves up for failure.

Impossible tasks:
Impossible tasks suggest that we are physically unable to do something we may feel we should be able to do. If we believe that we should be able to do something that we cannot do, we automatically feel like we have failed. It is a no-win situation.

Multiple roles:
Many of us play a number of important roles in our lives, such as wife/husband, mother/father, caregiver, and breadwinner. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we are trying to play multiple roles in our lives.

Self-sacrifice occurs when we agree to take on certain tasks despite our true desire to complete them. When we continually agree to things that we would rather not do, we inevitably become resentful.

Unspoken feelings:
Any emotion that is unexpressed creates "blocks" in our ability to complete tasks and to function in relationships. If we do not speak about how we are truly feeling in a situation, those emotions surface in other, unproductive ways such as being chronically late, frequently forgetting things, or reacting in ways that are inappropriate to the situation. 

Common Symptoms of Burnout

It is important to remember that we are not alone in our experiences with burnout. At some point in time, it is likely that most of us will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
"Negative" emotions:
"Negative" emotions are the feelings that are often the least comfortable to feel.  One symptom of burnout is consistent "negative" feelings such as anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction and guilt.

Interpersonal problems:
We might experience conflict with others in the form of emotional outbursts, overreacting, hostility and withdrawal.

Health Problems:
Some common health problems associated with burnout are frequent insomnia, fatigue, headaches, backaches, lethargy and high blood pressure.

Poor performance:
We may become less productive due to boredom, lack of enthusiasm, feelings of fear or an inability to concentrate.

Substance abuse:
Another symptom of burnout is a marked increase in the consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs, cigarette smoking, caffeine and food.

We might be inclined to work more hours due to feelings of inadequacy, believing that the more we work, the better we will feel.

Depression is the suppression of emotions. We may be depressed if we notice an overall feeling of hopelessness and meaninglessness. 

Loss of self-esteem:
Simply stated, the loss of self-esteem equals a decrease in self-confidence.

Solutions in Dealing with Burnout

Once we become more aware of why we experience burnout, and the various ways burnout manifests itself, we can begin to focus on ways to guard against it. It is time to develop a plan of action!

Take care of yourself: 

  • Regularly feed your body nutritious foods
  • Get sufficient rest
  • Exercise routinely
  • Pay attention to your body's signals of stress 

Practice stress-reducing strategies: 

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Progressive relaxation techniques
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi 

Develop a strong support system: 

  • Surround yourself with friends/family by whom you feel supported.
  • Attend a support group where you can share your concerns & feelings.
  • Create a support /discussion group at work where you can share your concerns, while being willing to talk about your part in the problem and the solution.
  • Utilize your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to receive support/counseling or referrals for services that can assist you.
  • See a counselor or therapist if you are in need of more extensive mental health support. 

Create a fulfilling life: 

  • Make conscious decisions about how you want to spend your time.
  • Say "yes" to what you want to say "yes" to, and say "no" to what you want to say "no" to.
  • Acknowledge your priorities and actively build your life around them. 

The key to avoiding burnout is to continually seek balance in our lives. The more informed we are about our own issues with burnout, the better armed we will be to take care of ourselves. Consequently, the better job we do of taking care of our own needs, the more we can be physically, mentally, and emotionally available to those around us.



Aging and Long Term Care
State Agency for connecting to social services
Evalyn Adams
1222 N Post
Spokane, WA 99201

Aging and Long-Term Care of Southeast Washington
State Agency for connecting to social services and they have an ALS case manager
Betty J. Meilander
Case Manager
106 S. 6th Ave.
Yakima, WA 98902

Crisis Clinic
1515 Dexter Ave N Ste 300
Seattle, WA 98109
24-Hour Crisis Line 206-461-3222 1-866-4CRISIS
Community Information Line 206-461-3200 1-800-621-4636

Eastside Adult Day Services
3707 Providence Pt. Drive SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Adult, teen and child grief counseling
P.O. Box 912
Auburn, WA 98071-0912

Olympic Area Agency on Aging
The Family Caregivers Support Program
2700 Simpson Ave, Suite 205
Aberdeen,WA 98520

Shanti c/o Multifaith Works
Volunteer Companion Program
Robert Lux
1801 12th Ave Ste A
Seattle,WA 98122
206-324-1520 x227

Silverdale Community Center
Family Caregiver Support Program
9729 Silverdale Way NW
Silverdale, WA 98383-9445

The Neurological Center
Patient education and support for neurological conditions
Carole Fingerson
Executive Director
712 Swift Blvd., Suite 1
Richland,. WA 99352

Veterans Administration Medical Center
Tara Stablein, MSW
1660 S. Columbian Way
Seattle WA 98108

Virginia Mason Medical Center
Social Services
Sally Stewart MSW
206-625-7373 x64948

Wellness House
Support center
210 S 11th Ave Suite #40
Yakima, WA 98902-3293


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North Sound Support Groups


Fourth Thursday of Every Month

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Stilliguamish Senior Center

Don Regan Conference Room

18308 Smokey Point Blvd.

Arlington, WA



Second Thursday of Every Month

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

St. Luke’s Community Health Education Center

3333 Squalicum Way

Bellingham, WA



Second Monday of Every Month

10:00 am – 11:30 am

Swedish Medical Center | Edmonds 

21601 76th Avenue W

Edmonds, WA 98026



For More Information, Contact:

Oliver Ross

(360) 733-5222














King County Region

v(Formerly Bellevue)
Caregivers Support Group 

Second Saturday of Every Month

9:30 am – 11:30 am

NEW! The ALS Association Evergreen Chapter
  Conference Room

19226 66th Avenue S, Ste. L-105

Kent, WA


Second Sunday of Every Month

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Home of Carl & Merilyn Moore

13209 SE 236th Place

Kent, WA
(253) 631-7986


Third Wednesday of Every Month

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Bailey Boushay House
2720 East Madison St.

Seattle, WA 98112
rd Floor Dining Hall


For More Information, Contact:

Caryn Wise

(253) 254-8909












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First Thursday of Every Month

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Silverdale United Methodist Church Library

9982 Silverdale Way

Silverdale, WA
Entrance faces Ridgetop Blvd. NW



Third Tuesday of Every Month

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Absolute Mobility Center

6053 Tacoma Mall Blvd.

Tacoma, WA


First Tuesday of Every Month 

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Olympia Senior Center

222 Columbia St. NW

Olympia, WA


For More Information, Contact:

Caryn Wise

(253) 254-8909




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vCoeur d'Alene

Second Tuesday of Every Month

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Heart of the City Church
772 W. Kathleen Avenue

Coeur d'Alene, ID



vTwin Falls
Patient & Caregiver Support Group
First Friday of Every Month

11:00 am – 12:30 pm
National Seating and Mobility
1247 Filer Avenue East

Twin Falls, ID

For More Information, Contact:

Kattie Bruno

(208) 725-1002













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Second Wednesday of Every Month

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

St. Patrick Hospital
Broadway Building, Conference Room 2
500 W Broadway St.

Missoula, MT

For More Information, Contact:

Nathan Ziegler

(509) 725-1002



vTri-Cities & SE Washington

Fourth Wednesday of Every Month

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

1268 Lee Blvd.

Richland, WA




First Saturday of Every Month

10:00 am – 11:00 am

Wellness House

210 S. 11th Avenue #40

Yakima, WA



For More Information, Contact:

Lisa Schoonover

(509) 834-0433