With advances in medical care, longer life expectancies, and more people living with chronic disease more of us will be participating in the caregiver process. If you find yourself in the caregiving role, you may be experiencing a variety of feelings. Here are some feelings common among those caring for a family member.
Anxiety and worry – about additional responsibilities and expenses, the future…
Anger or resentment – toward the patient or the world in general…. Or even toward friends or others who don’t have the responsibilities of caregivers.
Guilt – You may feel like you should do more, or have more patience, or be more available.
Grief – You experience loss with the caregiving role… the future you envisioned, the health of the loved one you’re caring for… the eventual loss of your loved one if he or she is terminally ill.
Accept your feelings and know you are not alone. Find someone you can confide in to share your feelings and help you deal with them. You could seek additional support from other family members, friends, church, caregiver organizations or therapists.
HelpGuide.org offers these tips for caregivers:
Learn about your family member’s illness and about how to be a caregiver. Knowing more will lesson your anxiety and increase your effectiveness.
Seek out others who are caregivers. It’s always helpful to know you’re not alone and others experience similar things. Is there a support group in your area? Family Caregiver Alliance offers resources for caregivers.
Trust your instincts when it comes to sorting through doctor’s treatment suggestions. You know your family member the best.
Encourage your loved one to be independent. Explore technologies or adaptive equipment that will allow your loved one to be as independent as possible.
Know your limits. Be reasonable about how much or your time and of yourself you can give. And communicate those limits to others… doctors, family members, extended family members. Ask for help or respite care when you need relief.
Caregiving comes with a lot of responsibility and burden at times, but can also be rewarding and satisfying knowing that you are sacrificing for a family member to help them feel more comfortable and loved.
Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org/state-list-views?field_state_tid=94
Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County