Emotions & Caregiving
Deciding to take on the responsibilites of caregiving can bring about a variety of emotions. As the circumstances of the caregiving role change so may the caregiver’s emotions. It is important to understand the impact of these emotions, to understand that changes of emotion during caregiving is common and many other caregivers share these feelings.
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- Identify and accept that strong emotional reactions are a part of caregiving.
- Emotions can be positive or negative and can range from joy, hope, anger, depression to guilt.
- As a caregiver you may not want to talk about or acknowledge negative feelings.
- Fear and anxiety are common when presented with the fact that a loved one’s physical or mental condition is declining and thier safety is at risk.
- Anxiety about the future is common, planning ahead can help reduce your anxiety.
- Even with planning, frustration can occur.
- Frustration may occur due to lack of cooperation from your loved one, your family and friends, the medical community and from putting in a lot of effort with very little in return.
- Frustration may lead to resentment of the loved one, of family, friends, and professionals who do not help enough and of others who have free time and seem relatively unburdened.
- Frustration and resentment are the foundation of anger.
- Anger is one of the strongest emotions that caregivers may have to deal with. Anger at your loved one, at the situation, at family and friends occurs most often.
- Caregiving may increase your awareness of your own mortality making you feel more vulnerable.
- At person with dementia.
- At yourself.
- At other family members.
- At healthcare professionals.
- At God.
- Of the disease itself.
- Of your need to provide assistance.
- Of the loss of family continuity.
- That the genetic disease could be passed to you.
- Of your own mortality.
- Of the future.
- Of the unknown.
- For the care receiver.
- Over past experiences.
- Over your own ability to still enjoy life.
- Over anger at other family members because they life far away, criticize or prefer to remain uninvolved.
- Over negative feelings and/or problems experienced with the person you are caring for.
- Over ability or inability to provide adequate care.
- About financial and legal issues.
- About medical care.
- About living arrangements.
- Over unfair circumstances in life.
- Over the amount of care that your loved one needs.
- By all the other demands on your time
- Over things that have happened or that have been said in the past
- Over things that you haven't said or done, but wish you would have
- Over your loved one's condition
- You wish that you could do more for you loved one.
- In assisting with their health care and personal needs.
- with the caregiving role.
- Over challenging behavior exhibited by person with dementia and physical limitations.
- For the person you are caring for.
Joy & Thankfulness
- In the opportunity to spend time with and help out your family member.
- In the closeness that caregiving has given you to your family member.
Family Caregiving: Emotional Changes3
Role Reversal: the parent being cared for has a more passive role in the parent-child relationship. They accept advice or being told what to do. The child providing care now becomes the decision-maker and the one responsible for their parent's overall well-being.
Role Overload: a caregiver does two to three times the normal workload of a non-caregiver.
Changes in the Family System: the entire family is affected by the caregiver's role. The caregiver has more demands on their time and less opportunities to fulfill their needs. These may spill over into the family unit. This may cause friction and conflict for the family.
Normal Household Routine is Interrupted: the family routine changes with the addition of the caregiver's new responsibilites. If the care receiver moves into the family home, the family routine may be seriously disrupted as the adaptation process occurs.
Past Feelings: past experiences, emotions and conflicts that existed before the you became a caregiver may resurface while caregiving. This can complicate or enhance your caregiving experience.
Tips for Overcoming Negative Emotions4
Overcoming negative emotions: Useful steps for understanding and dealing with your feelings
- Identify your feelings.
- Admit that the feeling exists even though it is unpleasant.
- Take a step back and gain some distance from the situation.
- Take time to figure out what triggers the feelings.
- Talk about your feelings with someone you trust or write them down to express them.
- Make a plan, figure out what you can do differently when you recognize that these feelings are occuring; know specifically what you will change and how.
- Remember that there must be a balance between your needs and those of your loved one.
- Be comfortable with your limits; this means accepting what you are realistically able to do.
1. Brandt, A. (2000) Eldercare Online. Overcoming negative emotions. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from http//:www.ec-online,net/Knowledge/Articles/emotions2.html
2. Stocks, M. (2004). Suite 101.com. Retreived October 18, 2007 from http://www. suite101.com/article.cfm/ elderly_caregiving/109742
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