Coping With the Emotional Challenges of Caregiving

Reviewed Aug 10, 2016

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Summary

Caregivers must juggle their own lives as well as attending to the needs of another. It can be very overwhelming to face alone. Take care of yourself and reach out for help.

It’s not hard to see how caregivers might become easily overwhelmed. Think about all the work involved in keeping up with the normal parts of life like parenting, working, cooking and caring for a home. Add to that caring for someone close to you like a child with special needs, a parent with dementia or a spouse who is recovering from a stroke.

Caregiving can involve many duties like helping with bathing, dressing, eating or walking. Many caregivers drive loved ones to doctor visits, figure out their health care coverage, help with bill paying and help get their drug orders filled. Caregivers may also need to do housework or shop for their loved one, or care for their property. Often those with serious impairments may even have to give power of attorney to the caregiver or someone else.

A demanding job

Caregiving can be more than a full-time job, and it is often physically and emotionally tiring.

Often caregivers are dealing with their own grief about a family member’s life expectancy or failing health. When a loved one’s outlook is poor, caregivers can face issues such as placement in a nursing home, frequent hospitalizations, family conflict about care and arrangements, and possibly, reluctance to accept outside help even when it is needed.

It may become more taxing for a caregiver if the health of the loved one gets worse. As a sickness progresses it is not unusual for caregivers to view their loved one’s upcoming death with mixed feelings, as there may be deep sadness mixed with a sense of relief.

Sometimes caregivers feel guilt and shame as a result of being overwhelmed, over-burdened and upset.

Depression and caregiving

Feelings of great sadness can set in for a caregiver. Feeling blue from time to time is normal. But, you must know when to reach out for help. Signs that caregiving may be causing low spirits are:

  • not being able to focus on parts of your own life, such as work, parenting, maintaining a home or enjoying free time
  • feeling that a situation is hopeless or that you are helpless to cope with it
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • feeling tired most of the time
  • loss of interest in hobbies and people you used to enjoy
  • feeling grouchy, excessively worried, or tearful a lot of the time
  • drinking and taking drugs to try to soothe yourself
  • getting health issues yourself, mainly pain issues or frequent headaches

Seek help if your caregiving duties are getting to be too much and you are feeling sad.

It is vital to see your doctor to talk about it, or begin working with a therapist so that you can take an active, problem-solving approach to your situation. It can make a dramatic change in your stress level to talk about how you are feeling and find answers to the issues you face. Talking to others who “know” your stresses can be a huge source of support.

Tame stress

Other steps you can take to ease stress include:

  • Keep a calendar and task lists for yourself and the person for whom you care.
  • Use technology to get in touch with family and friends. Make use of websites or other media to share a “wish list” or to get help.
  • Set up a daily routine that you are able to stick to and that offers free time for yourself.
  • Break down big tasks into smaller tasks so that burdens can be shared.
  • Avoid taking on more jobs. Saying “no” is OK.
  • Keep your sense of humor.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat well.
  • Look back on why you are providing care and what it means to you.
  • Get spiritual support.
  • Go to caregiver support groups.
  • Make time for yourself each week to do something that brings you joy.

Elder services or other local agencies on aging can offer helpful services for your loved one. Accept the help. There are in-home or out-of-home respite programs, adult daycare centers, home health aides, visiting nurses, day treatment programs, hospice, and friendship and volunteer programs, just to name a few.

Use these services so that you can rebuild energy and strength to cope with sadness, and keep on being a good caregiver.

Resource

Helpguide.org
http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH

Summary

Caregivers must juggle their own lives as well as attending to the needs of another. It can be very overwhelming to face alone. Take care of yourself and reach out for help.

It’s not hard to see how caregivers might become easily overwhelmed. Think about all the work involved in keeping up with the normal parts of life like parenting, working, cooking and caring for a home. Add to that caring for someone close to you like a child with special needs, a parent with dementia or a spouse who is recovering from a stroke.

Caregiving can involve many duties like helping with bathing, dressing, eating or walking. Many caregivers drive loved ones to doctor visits, figure out their health care coverage, help with bill paying and help get their drug orders filled. Caregivers may also need to do housework or shop for their loved one, or care for their property. Often those with serious impairments may even have to give power of attorney to the caregiver or someone else.

A demanding job

Caregiving can be more than a full-time job, and it is often physically and emotionally tiring.

Often caregivers are dealing with their own grief about a family member’s life expectancy or failing health. When a loved one’s outlook is poor, caregivers can face issues such as placement in a nursing home, frequent hospitalizations, family conflict about care and arrangements, and possibly, reluctance to accept outside help even when it is needed.

It may become more taxing for a caregiver if the health of the loved one gets worse. As a sickness progresses it is not unusual for caregivers to view their loved one’s upcoming death with mixed feelings, as there may be deep sadness mixed with a sense of relief.

Sometimes caregivers feel guilt and shame as a result of being overwhelmed, over-burdened and upset.

Depression and caregiving

Feelings of great sadness can set in for a caregiver. Feeling blue from time to time is normal. But, you must know when to reach out for help. Signs that caregiving may be causing low spirits are:

  • not being able to focus on parts of your own life, such as work, parenting, maintaining a home or enjoying free time
  • feeling that a situation is hopeless or that you are helpless to cope with it
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • feeling tired most of the time
  • loss of interest in hobbies and people you used to enjoy
  • feeling grouchy, excessively worried, or tearful a lot of the time
  • drinking and taking drugs to try to soothe yourself
  • getting health issues yourself, mainly pain issues or frequent headaches

Seek help if your caregiving duties are getting to be too much and you are feeling sad.

It is vital to see your doctor to talk about it, or begin working with a therapist so that you can take an active, problem-solving approach to your situation. It can make a dramatic change in your stress level to talk about how you are feeling and find answers to the issues you face. Talking to others who “know” your stresses can be a huge source of support.

Tame stress

Other steps you can take to ease stress include:

  • Keep a calendar and task lists for yourself and the person for whom you care.
  • Use technology to get in touch with family and friends. Make use of websites or other media to share a “wish list” or to get help.
  • Set up a daily routine that you are able to stick to and that offers free time for yourself.
  • Break down big tasks into smaller tasks so that burdens can be shared.
  • Avoid taking on more jobs. Saying “no” is OK.
  • Keep your sense of humor.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat well.
  • Look back on why you are providing care and what it means to you.
  • Get spiritual support.
  • Go to caregiver support groups.
  • Make time for yourself each week to do something that brings you joy.

Elder services or other local agencies on aging can offer helpful services for your loved one. Accept the help. There are in-home or out-of-home respite programs, adult daycare centers, home health aides, visiting nurses, day treatment programs, hospice, and friendship and volunteer programs, just to name a few.

Use these services so that you can rebuild energy and strength to cope with sadness, and keep on being a good caregiver.

Resource

Helpguide.org
http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH

Summary

Caregivers must juggle their own lives as well as attending to the needs of another. It can be very overwhelming to face alone. Take care of yourself and reach out for help.

It’s not hard to see how caregivers might become easily overwhelmed. Think about all the work involved in keeping up with the normal parts of life like parenting, working, cooking and caring for a home. Add to that caring for someone close to you like a child with special needs, a parent with dementia or a spouse who is recovering from a stroke.

Caregiving can involve many duties like helping with bathing, dressing, eating or walking. Many caregivers drive loved ones to doctor visits, figure out their health care coverage, help with bill paying and help get their drug orders filled. Caregivers may also need to do housework or shop for their loved one, or care for their property. Often those with serious impairments may even have to give power of attorney to the caregiver or someone else.

A demanding job

Caregiving can be more than a full-time job, and it is often physically and emotionally tiring.

Often caregivers are dealing with their own grief about a family member’s life expectancy or failing health. When a loved one’s outlook is poor, caregivers can face issues such as placement in a nursing home, frequent hospitalizations, family conflict about care and arrangements, and possibly, reluctance to accept outside help even when it is needed.

It may become more taxing for a caregiver if the health of the loved one gets worse. As a sickness progresses it is not unusual for caregivers to view their loved one’s upcoming death with mixed feelings, as there may be deep sadness mixed with a sense of relief.

Sometimes caregivers feel guilt and shame as a result of being overwhelmed, over-burdened and upset.

Depression and caregiving

Feelings of great sadness can set in for a caregiver. Feeling blue from time to time is normal. But, you must know when to reach out for help. Signs that caregiving may be causing low spirits are:

  • not being able to focus on parts of your own life, such as work, parenting, maintaining a home or enjoying free time
  • feeling that a situation is hopeless or that you are helpless to cope with it
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • feeling tired most of the time
  • loss of interest in hobbies and people you used to enjoy
  • feeling grouchy, excessively worried, or tearful a lot of the time
  • drinking and taking drugs to try to soothe yourself
  • getting health issues yourself, mainly pain issues or frequent headaches

Seek help if your caregiving duties are getting to be too much and you are feeling sad.

It is vital to see your doctor to talk about it, or begin working with a therapist so that you can take an active, problem-solving approach to your situation. It can make a dramatic change in your stress level to talk about how you are feeling and find answers to the issues you face. Talking to others who “know” your stresses can be a huge source of support.

Tame stress

Other steps you can take to ease stress include:

  • Keep a calendar and task lists for yourself and the person for whom you care.
  • Use technology to get in touch with family and friends. Make use of websites or other media to share a “wish list” or to get help.
  • Set up a daily routine that you are able to stick to and that offers free time for yourself.
  • Break down big tasks into smaller tasks so that burdens can be shared.
  • Avoid taking on more jobs. Saying “no” is OK.
  • Keep your sense of humor.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat well.
  • Look back on why you are providing care and what it means to you.
  • Get spiritual support.
  • Go to caregiver support groups.
  • Make time for yourself each week to do something that brings you joy.

Elder services or other local agencies on aging can offer helpful services for your loved one. Accept the help. There are in-home or out-of-home respite programs, adult daycare centers, home health aides, visiting nurses, day treatment programs, hospice, and friendship and volunteer programs, just to name a few.

Use these services so that you can rebuild energy and strength to cope with sadness, and keep on being a good caregiver.

Resource

Helpguide.org
http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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