Emotional Impact of Caregiving
Caregiving is an emotionally demanding job. Looking out for someone’s health and wellbeing takes time, energy, and a lot of compassion. There are going to be times where you feel frustrated, angry, or even ambivalent. Don’t let these feelings demoralize you – it’s all part of the process. For all the challenges of caregiving, there are many emotionally uplifting moments as well.
In this post, we will cover some of the difficult and rewarding feelings associated with caregiving. Keep reading for tips on how to deal with the hard times and advice on how to focus on the positives.
Emotional Challenges for Caregivers
It’s not unusual to feel frustrated with caregiving duties. The people who need your help won’t always appreciate everything you do for them, and putting someone else’s needs before your own is not easy. Don’t underestimate the value you have to the people you serve. Here are some common challenging feelings caregivers experience and what you can do to cope:
- Anger/Irritability – Whether you’re looking after someone you love or a stranger entrusted to you, personalities are bound to clash every once in a while. Not everyone likes being cared for, and even those that do can end up working your nerves. Don’t be afraid to give yourself breaks. Find people who you can vent to every now and then. You can and should take moments for yourself to calm down.
- Anxiety/Fear – Looking after someone is a big responsibility, and it’s not unusual to grow anxious or fearful about what could happen to your charge. These feelings make you more tense, nervous, and unable to function. Take time to stop, breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Remind yourself that you’re doing everything you can and there’s only so much you can control.
- Boredom – It’s good to have routines, but they can make life tedious. As a caregiver, it’s your job to make sure your charge is staying active and engaged, but don’t neglect your own wellbeing. Find things you can do during downtime like read a book or play a game, and don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need them.
- Loneliness – When much of your time is spent looking after someone who needs you, you may find yourself spending less time with friends and family. You may be friendly or even have a familiar bond with your charge, but it’s not an equal relationship and that can be a lonely feeling. Make time to spend with other people, and consider bringing in someone else who can help, whether it’s from family, friends, or an agency. Caregiving should be a group effort.
- Grief/Depression – Watching the health of someone you care for decline is a difficult experience. It’s not easy to stand by helplessly as your charge slowly loses vigor. Acknowledge these feelings – write in a journal, talk to a compassionate friend, cry if you feel it. Accept the feelings when they come so that you can remain focused when it counts.
Another common feeling caregivers deal with is guilt. You may find yourself chastising yourself for having negative thoughts about caregiving, but that’s not necessary. This is a difficult job and no one can do it with 24/7 positivity. If you’re feeling guilty or overwhelmed by the challenges of caregiving, try thinking about some of the positives.
Emotional Rewards of Caregiving
As difficult as caregiving can be, it is not without its rewards. It’s sometimes hard to focus on the positives when handling the day-to-day tasks of caregiving, but you should take time to remember why your work matters. Caregiving has many benefits, including feelings of:
- Pride – You make a significant difference in this person’s life. You should be proud knowing that your hard work is what allows them to live a safer, more comfortable life. Not many people are capable of doing what you do.
- Accomplishment – Helping one person doesn’t always get the praise it deserves, but it is a major accomplishment. Your charge and their loved ones are all relying on you to make their lives better. The value of your work should never be understated.
- Compassion/Empathy – Whether they’re aware of it or not, your charge is someone who depends on you. Helping them isn’t always easy, but you’re still here giving them everything you have. It’s hard to match the feeling of watching someone you’ve helped improve their daily life thanks to your efforts.
When you accept that caregiving has its challenges and rewards, you have an easier time managing the more challenging aspects. This is an intensive job, however, and you don’t need to handle it alone. Contact At Home Healthcare to speak with professional caregivers.