Emotional health of Carers

As you care for people day in and day out many feelings start to come up. Caretakers are mostly reluctant to express or even confront their feelings for fear of being judged. Not giving attention to your feelings may lead to an inability to sleep or eat well, substance abuse, illness etc.

Following are some of the commonly identified feelings that caregivers experience:

  • Doubt or fluctuation regarding career choice-

You both want to do what you are doing and simultaneously feel that you might be better off it. This depends on the daily experience you go through while executing your duties.

Remembering that neither the good or bad experience will last forever will help you cope with this feeling of unsurety.

  • Annoyance/Irritability-

How often have you been mad or lost it while providing care? Or have felt irritated/ agitated? Frustration is a normal feeling when you are taking care of someone who needs help on an ongoing basis. Caring for patients with dementia is even a greater challenge as the patient may be reluctant and combative.

Forgive yourself at such times. And remember that getting frustrated or angry is a human emotion. Try to find constructive ways to express yourself like walking away for some time or taking a time-out.

  • Weariness-

One might become weary or feel bored while you are stuck at home throughout the day taking care of somebody else. And by the end of a day, you are often too tired to pursue something of interest to you.

You should definitely take a break from caregiving and spend time for yourself. You will increase your patience and resilience by doing so and will also do something kind for yourself by maintaining your own mental and emotional health.

  • Sadness/Depression-

Caregivers are at a risk of getting depressed due to the monotonous environment around them. You may feel hopeless, helpless; lose interest in daily cares of life or trouble getting up and facing the day. And sometimes you may feel like crying.

Professional help is needed in depression. It is treatable and should be taken seriously.

  • Fear-

Will I be able to cope? What if I make a blunder? What if I am not cautious enough? What if something happens? All the above questions have crossed the minds of every caregiver. Caretakers have a huge responsibility; scaring oneself about ‘’what ifs’’ can be paralyzing.

You should talk to someone who knows your situation and gives perspective and calm your fears.

  • Impatience-

If the care receiver is acting unhelpful and moving slowly on a rush filled appointment day it is possible that one may feel impatient. In instances where the care receiver is refusing to use the walker even though he/she has fallen several times and their doctor has emphasized on its use. It is understandable that you get impatient at such times too.

Understand what you can and cannot control. Leave a lot of time to accomplish tasks. Control the environment as much as you can, but know you can’t always prevent the care receiver to take off without his/her walker.

  • Lack of Appreciation-

The care receivers may never thank you or even see how much you are giving up in order to take care of them. This happens because most of us do not want to depend on someone else; so the receiver is often pushing away the attempts of a carer to be helpful and caring.

Keeping a journal about the things you do each day will be a gentle reminder of the noble work that you are doing. It acts like a pat on the back; here of course by yourself. Having friends/family or even a support group to cheer you up on your caregiving journey will make you comfortable and resilient.

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