Back in November I looked at the topic of family caregiving and discussed some tips on how we can do our best to provide the best support for our loved ones. However those of us that are caregivers also require support. I plan to cover the areas where we may require support in this and other posts. In this post we will look at how our feelings and emotions can be affected.
Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. It’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling, both good and bad. Don’t beat yourself up over your doubts and misgivings. These feelings don’t mean that you don’t love your family member, they simply mean you’re human.
What you may feel about being a family caregiver
- Anxiety and worry – You may worry about how you will handle the additional responsibilities of caregiving and what will happen to your family member if something happens to you. You may also fear what will happen in the future as your loved one’s illness progresses.
- Anger or resentment – You may feel angry or resentful toward the person you’re caring for, even though you know it’s irrational. Or you might be angry at the world in general, or resentful of other friends or family members who don’t have your responsibilities.
- Guilt – You may feel guilty for not doing more, being a “better” caregiver, having more patience, accepting your situation with more equanimity, or in the case of long distance caregiving, not being available more often.
- Grief – There are many losses that can come with caregiving, such as the healthy future you envisioned with your spouse or child, the goals and dreams you’ve had to set aside. If the person you’re caring for is terminally ill, you’re also dealing with that grief.
Even when you understand why you’re feeling the way you do, it can still be upsetting. In order to deal with your feelings, it’s important to talk about them. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up, but find at least one person you trust to confide in. Here is a list of places you can turn for caregiver support:
- Family members or friends who will listen without judgment
- Your church, temple, or other place of worship
- Caregiver support groups at a local hospital or online
- A therapist, social worker, or counselor
- National caregiver organizations
- Organizations specific to your family member’s illness or disability
Caregiving can be draining emotionally and can bring up some unhappy feelings. Keep in mind that all these feelings are normal. Remember also to look after yourself and seek out someone you can lean on for the emotional support you need. It may not make caregiving any easier, but it will help you cope.
If you are a caregiver, please consider wearing a medical ID stating that another person relies on you–this can ensure that you both receive the support you need if you as the caregiver become ill or injured and unable to communicate.