Caregiving’s Emotional Insecurity

You’ve nobly accepted the role of caregiver and are anxious to grab the reins and provide exceptional care for a loved-one. Horror stories describing the mental and emotional stress of caregiving are overexaggerated. Your independent personality paired with impressive problem solving skills will make caregiving’s challenges less difficult. Everything is under control. How emotionally draining can caregiving be? Meal preparation, bathing, dressing, afternoon naps, medication reminders….piece of cake, right? WRONG! As a young, energetic, independent woman, I was unable to keep up with caregiving’s daily demands. The emotions encountered during this journey were overwhelming and mentally exhausting. Varied emotions supported a vicious cycle of fatigue, burnout, and depression. Following are the emotions I experienced while persevering caregiving’s craziness!

  1. Worry is constant while caregiving. Anything and everything pertaining to the care-recipient becomes a worry. It’s emotionally draining and physically unhealthy. Excessive worrying wreaks havoc on caregivers’ minds and bodies. They lose confidence in their capabilities and experience unwanted weight loss or gain.
  2. Anger manifests when anxiety and depression overshadow your initial caregiving motives. Social isolation creates a stressful, argumentative environment. The world is viewed as unfair while onlookers question your caregiving intentions.
  3. Resentment occurs when caregiving becomes too overwhelming and the final result is burnout. High stress levels promote foggy thinking. Caregivers begin to blame the care-recipient for their inactive social lives and recurring health problems. Family and friends are disliked for their non-participation in major responsibilities.
  4. Loneliness is a direct result of social isolation and inconclusive respite care research. The four walls of a home are unifying but disharmonious. Concerns and needs are expressed, but only the walls are listening. Social isolation can be resolved by simple phone calls or visits from family and friends. Caregivers must have the opportunity to vent and voice their concerns.
  5. Guilt is an intrusive emotion continuing long after caregiving ends. The inability to improve a care-recipient’s quality of life or prevent deteriorating health fuels caregiver guilt. Death is an unavoidable conclusion overloading caregivers’ minds with doubtful thoughts and what-if’s. A care-recipient’s passing doesn’t release you from feelings of frustration and guilt.
  6. Grief transpires when caregivers anticipate the end of their caregiving journey. The reality of the situation becomes obvious and they begin grieving the care-recipient. A depressive mood lingers and consumes the care environment. It’s an emotionally draining unpreventable circumstance.

Caregiving reveals both positive and negative emotions. Avoid resenting the care-recipient for generated negative feelings. Combat caregiving’s emotional rollercoaster by instating a stable support system and arranging deserved respite care. Exhaustion fosters irrational thinking and moodiness. Practicing self-care and emphasizing initial caregiving goals will recreate your nurturing, caring, independent self. Thank you for reading. Good luck!


Recovering from Burnout while still Caregiving

You’ve noticed a change in your mood and temperament.  Your bright spirit is dim.  Avoiding social interaction has become part of your daily routine.  Happiness no longer compliments your face.  You feel lonely and secluded, almost depressed.  Caregiving duties are still being completed but not with the same vigor and enthusiasm.  Your fast-thinking logic has been replaced with slow what-if’sSound familiar?  Most caregivers can identify and empathize with these feelings.  These mixed emotions are warning signs of caregiver stress.  Ignoring these symptoms will result in caregiver burnout.  Trust me, I know.  Yes, there are ways you can prevent caregiver stress, but how can a caregiver recover from burnout while still providing care?

You’re overwhelmed, stressed, and on the verge of throwing in the towel.  I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!  But walking out the door is not an option; you must continue the daily care regimen.  The patient’s well-being is dependent on you.  Once you begin manifesting thoughts of defeat, you’ve entered the caregiver burnout phase.  Burnout will cause a decline in your mental and physical health.  This decline will result in subpar care for your loved-one.  It’s the “trickle-down” effect and it begins with you.

You’ve diagnosed yourself with caregiver burnout.  How can you reverse its effects and still provide quality care?  You can’t do it on your own.  If you’re suffering from burnout, you must voice your thoughts and opinions to family members, friends, or the attending physician.  Reaching out is not admitting defeat.  You’re recognizing the need for third party help in order to successfully care for your patient. 

Instate a dependable support group to help with caregiving duties.  Recovery involves alleviating some of the daily stress that contributed to your mental and physical burnout.  Discuss ways they can help YOU cope with caregiver stress.  Don’t be shy!  Designate daily caregiving duties to dependable family members and friends.  Don’t know where to start when assigning caregiving responsibilities?  Read, How to Help a Caregiver.

Reaching the burnout phase takes time….it doesn’t happen overnight.  It sneaks up on you.  It’s difficult to recognize the symptoms of caregiver stress because your engaged and focused on providing quality care for your loved-one.  Ideally, a caregiver would never suffer from stress or burnout.  However, it’s part of caregiving’s brutal reality.  Trying to combat mental and physical exhaustion while still maintaining a stable environment is extremely difficult without proper support.  Being overwhelmed results in the deterioration of quality care.  

The most effective strategy for recovering from caregiver burnout while still caregiving is ASK FOR HELP.  Without help the everyday stress of your monotonous daily routine will continue to wreak havoc on your own health, creating a less-than satisfactory caregiving environment.  Ultimately you want the best possible care for your loved-one.  Allow them good quality care by taking the initiative to engage others in your caregiver duties.  Reaching out will bring success to your burnout recovery and allow you to continue your caregiving journey.  Did you find this post helpful?  Let me know by leaving a comment.  Feel free to share this post with anyone who could benefit from the information.  Thank you for reading and stay well!  

          

Tips on being a caregiver AND keeping your sanity!

By now most of you know my story….30-something woman, B.S. degree in Chemistry, full-time caregiver for 11 years.  How did I manage to successfully care for my grandmother and keep my sanity during the entire process?  It wasn’t easy.  I applied the same trial and error mentality I had used in my Chemistry courses to create a caregiving strategy.  The following day-to-day tips will help you create a balance between your caregiving duties and personal life.  Everyone needs balance!

1.)  Create a Routine

Although each day as a caregiver has unexpected twists, try to create a routine that’s beneficial to you and your loved-one.  An environment becomes less stressful when those involved know what to expect.  Feed meals and give medications at specified times each day.  Try following an effective sleep schedule.  A customized sleep schedule is vital in avoiding caregiver stress and burnout!

2.)  Make Time for Fun Activities

My grandmother was house-bound, so we spent A LOT of time inside the same four walls.  Planning fun activities enabled us to laugh and be active while being limited to the home.  Those activities included baking cookies, watching her favorite television shows, dancing or rolling (she was in a wheelchair) around to her favorite music, going outside in the warmer months to plant flowers and mulch the flower beds.  These little things kept her happy and me sane!

3.)  Remember Yourself

When caring for an ailing loved-one, it’s easy to forget yourself.  Your most important concern is the well-being of your patient.  But, try to dedicate some time to your own personal life.  An unhealthy caregiver is not beneficial to themselves or the patient.  Allow 30 minutes of YOU-TIME a day.  These 30 minutes may be available early in the morning, before your loved-one wakes or during your patient’s afternoon nap.  Whenever you can sneak a little time for yourself, DO IT!

4.)  Be Happy

Caregiving is a stressful situation and if given the opportunity your loved-one nor you would choose this life path.  Whatever the circumstance, your loved-one is dependent upon you for their well-being.  Never make them feel like a burden.  No matter how stressful the situation or lifestyle becomes, try to keep a smiling face.  It provides your loved-one with security and reassurance.

5.)  Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  Short-term breaks can alleviate a lot of stress.  If given the opportunity, ask someone to relieve you from your caregiving duties.  Take an extended lunch break or arrange a date night with the hubby.  It sounds small, but those few hours will make the coming days SO much easier.

Caregiving is a stressful but rewarding experience.  As a caregiver you have the ability to create an amazing bond with your patient.  I’m so glad I chose to be my grandmother’s caregiver!  We created an unbreakable bond filled with happy memories.  GOOD LUCK!