As many families adjust to taking care of a senior loved one, emotions that a caregiver will face can be hard to navigate. Guilt from burnout is common and caregivers must pay attention to themselves in order to know when it just becomes too much.
Let’s dig into the range of emotions that is normal for caregivers to experience, as well as how you can take better care of yourself, and know when it’s time to ask for help.
Understanding each of these areas can make it easier to accept your current role and give you the strength to provide your loved one with the best care possible, while also sustaining your relationship.
Recognizing Your Emotions as a Caregiver
While caring for a senior loved one, you may begin to only focus on their needs. You might ignore signals from your own body about when you need to rest, eat, or even express emotions that you haven’t had time to process.
As a caregiver, there are of course positive emotions you may feel, such as love, gratefulness, and joy. According to the National Center on Caregiving, it is also very normal to experience difficult emotions, including the following:
Although some emotions can be difficult to face, they should not be ignored. Understand that your feelings are valid and important. If you begin to ignore your body’s signals, whether they are emotional or physical, you can miss symptoms of more serious issues until they can no longer be ignored.
Among other emotions, you may feel as if you can’t take time for yourself, but we all need some amount of care. If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to sustain caring for others. If a loved one’s care feels as if it has become all-consuming, seek help to make it more manageable.
How to Care for Yourself
Show yourself compassion as you would for your loved one. This could be as simple as giving yourself time — time to quiet your mind, or process your feelings and thoughts, time for your own health needs, and your interests.
Form a solid foundation by creating a routine where you can get sufficient sleep, stay hydrated, and eat nutritious foods. From there, try to stay active in other areas of your life outside of caregiving. Spend time with your friends or other loved ones, de-stress with meditation or time in nature, spend time reading or enjoying a favorite hobby.
Most importantly, understand that you not only deserve to take this time but that you also need it to continue to provide quality care for your loved one.
When to Ask for Help
The stress of caregiving can actually begin to affect your health. If sadness begins to turn into depression, or anger builds into resentment, these are signs that you may be taking on too much as a caregiver. Watch out for signals such as difficulty sleeping, or a disinterest in activities you once enjoyed. This could be a sign that it’s time to ask for help.
This could involve seeking educational resources, support groups, or therapy to learn how to cope with your situation. It could mean reaching out to friends or family to share in caring for your loved one. It could lead to hiring professionals to provide high quality service to your loved one that you’re unable to sustain or handle on your own.
If your loved one’s care becomes more complex and they need more specialized attention, it may be time to discuss a transition to an assisted living community.
The Kensington Can Help
The health of the caregiver is an important component to the level of care a senior loved one will receive, just as a senior’s routine, medicine, and enrichment is important. You may feel guilt from wanting to take time away while your loved one needs care. However, there needs to be an understanding established that you receive help as a caregiver so that you have the time and energy to also take care of yourself.
When overwhelmed with caregiving to the point of needing to seek assisted living or memory care, The Kensington Falls Church will be your partner in providing care, as we do for each resident, as if they were our family members.