Providing care for a family member is a difficult job. Most caregivers find themselves thrown into the role unexpectedly, and adjusting can be very stressful. Family caregivers include children caring for aging parents, spouses caring for one another post injury, or parents caring for children born with a disability, just to name a few.
No matter your caregiving situation, here are four common emotions that family caregivers often experience, and some tips on how to deal with them.
Caregiving anxiety is often a result of facing the unknown. Seeing your loved one in an altered or uncomfortable state typically produces feelings of stress and confusion for a caregiver.
TIPS: There’s a lot of information out there for many conditions, and educating yourself as a caregiver may help ease your anxiety. Reaching out to others in similar situations (such as through a support group) may also help alleviate stress-induced anxiety.
“Anxiety about unfamiliar situations may be lessened if you feel confident and informed.”
Guilt is a very common caregiver emotion. Caregivers are often concerned about whether they are doing enough.
TIPS: Understanding and accepting your limits is essential, otherwise you run the risk of facing caregiver burnout. Caregivers cannot possibly do everything. Set realistic limits for what you can accomplish in a given amount of time.
“Self-acceptance can prevent burnout and keep you more engaged and present.”
While many associate grief exclusively with death, for caregivers grief can arise at any time during the caregiving process. “Although still alive, you may find yourself grieving the person you once knew” or the person you imagined in the future.
TIPS: Appreciate that you can still have meaningful moments together. Finding ways to connect with your loved one is essential for dealing with this difficult emotion.
“Mourn the person who is no more, but engage with the person who is.”
Anger at seeing a loved one in a changed state or struggling is very common for caregivers. You may also find you are angry that the future is no longer what you had imagined now that you are a caregiver to a family member in need.
TIPS: Reflecting on good times from the past is one way to help ease the feelings of anger. Also, coming to terms with the fact that life is different now – although a difficult undertaking – will aid in decreasing caregiver anger.
Remember that even though you may feel alone as a caregiver dealing with these emotions, currently over 65 million people in the U.S. find themselves in the challenging role of caregiving.
Share this post with someone who has recently found themselves in the role of caregiver.