The Emotional Side of Caregiving

trees2.jpgA very in depth look at the myriad of emotions caregivers experience!  Read below and Thank you for visiting us at Advocare. We provide Aging Life CareTM to area residents throughout the South Florida area. 

(Family Caregiver Alliance) Whether you become a caregiver gradually or all of sudden due to a crisis, or whether you are a caregiver willingly or by default, many emotions surface when you take on the job of caregiving. Some of these feelings happen right away and some don’t surface until you have been caregiving for awhile. Whatever your situation, it is important to remember that you, too, are important. All of your emotions, good and bad, about caregiving are not only allowed, but valid and important.

Many feelings come up when you are caring for someone day in and day out. Many caregivers set out saying, “This won’t happen to me. I love my mother, father, husband, wife, sister, brother, friend, etc.” But after awhile, the “negative” emotions that we tend to want to bury or pretend we aren’t feeling come up. Caregivers are often reluctant to express these negative feelings for fear they will be judged by others (or judge themselves) or don’t want to burden others with their problems.

If you don’t deal with ALL of your emotions, they can be like a two year old who wants your attention: they will keep tugging at you until you stop and acknowledge them. Not paying attention to your feelings can lead to poor sleep, illness, trouble coping, stress eating, substance abuse, etc.  When you admit to your feelings, you can then find productive ways to express them and deal with them, so that you and the care receiver can cope better in the future.

This fact sheet will identify some of the common, often hard to admit, feelings that caregivers experience. Once identified, suggestions for how you might better cope with these feelings are offered.

If only we were perfect we would not feel:

Ambivalence: This is the feeling of both wanting to be doing what you are doing and the feeling of not wanting to be doing it. On bad days, one often has the feeling of wishing you didn’t have to be there, that this ordeal will be over soon. On good days, caring for someone can be a gift to both you and the care receiver.

Coping: Allow yourself to feel both sets of feelings. Everyone has these feelings sometimes. Neither the bad feelings nor the good ones will last forever.

Anger:  How often have you “lost it” while providing care?  Or felt like you were on your last nerve? Anger and frustration are a normal part of being around someone who needs help on an ongoing basis and who might not be accepting of help. Caring for someone with dementia, in particular, can be even harder, as the care receiver can be irrational and combative. It’s not always possible to be in perfect control of your emotions.  Anger “just comes out” sometimes.

Coping: Forgive yourself.  Find constructive ways to express yourself, learn to walk away and give yourself a “time out.” Identify supportive people you can talk to who will listen as you vent about the things that happened that day.

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