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Stress, Coping & Feelings 

Caregiving is one of the hardest yet most rewarding jobs in the world. The demands that come along with caring for someone else are endless, but often times caregivers lose focus of their own needs when putting someone else’s ahead of theirs.

Caregivers should arm themself with coping techniques, stress management skills, and tips for avoiding burnout so you can take good care of yourself while caring for your loved one.

Feelings & Caregiver Stress

Too much stress can be damaging to you and the Caregivers do so much for their loved ones. Some of the tasks include, bathing, dressing, cleaning, shopping, the list goes on. Caregiversrs come in all ages, male or female, all income levels. Some caregivers are automatically put in the caregiver role. Often, caregivers will not speak out out of embarrassment for having a range of feelings. But, it is important to know these feelings and to ensure others that it is a normal part of caregiving. All of the feelings listed below are normal.

Helplessness - Caregivers may feel helpless because of their loved one's condition. They cannot change the illness or they cannot make things better. Caregivers often give all they have to help those they love, but yet they still may feel that what they are doing is not enough. It is important for caregivers to realize that by doing the best they can is indeed helping their loved ones. They cannot possibly change the events that have taken place, but can learn to work with them.

Anger - Caregivers may feel anger, but it is not necessarily directed at their loved one. Instead, it is at the situation that they are now put in. This is very common and if we look at all that caregivers have to go through, it is quite understandable that anger is a natural feeling for a Caregiver. Caregivers often have to give up some of their lives in order to care for their loved ones. This can be seen in the child who is now caring for a parent. These caregivers have their own families and now they have to split the time between their family and their parent. I have seen caregivers who have had to quit their jobs in order to care for their loved ones. "If he asks that question one more time, I'll scream!" or irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses or reactions. "Leave me alone"

Anxiety - about facing another day and what the future holds "What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?"

Denial - Caregivers may be in denial about their current role. "I know Mom's going to get better." "I will only have to care for mom for a few days" or "Dad's illness will go away soon." Also, they may be in denial about their feelings in fear of what others may think.

Overwhelmed - Caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the many tasks they perform day in and day out. Caregivers may express these feelings by saying, "I just can't do it anymore," "There isn't enough time in the day to get everything done," or "I am run down."

Embarrassment - Caregivers may feel embarrassed by a certain behaviour their loved one may be expressing. This can especially be seen in loved ones with a dementing illness such as Alzheimer's. It is okay to feel embarrassed. But, also know that your loved one is not doing this behaviour to intentionally embarrass you.

Exhaustion - that interferes with completion of necessary daily tasks. "I'm too tired for this." Health problems can take their toll, mentally and physically. "I can't remember the last time I felt good"

Regret - Caregivers may feel regret. "If I had only done this," or "What if I had said this instead of that?" It is human nature to have regrets. If we look back on our lives, I am sure we can all come up with different scenarios on situations we were in. That is why it is important to know that we do the best we can with what we are given. We cannot change things we have done in the past, we can only make things different from this point on. Caregivers.

Isolation - Caregivers may feel like they are the only ones that can help theircaregiveres. Although they are the caregiver, it is crucial to become aware of programs in the community to help with the caregiving role. You do not have to be alone. For those fortunate enough to have family and friends that will help, accept the help. For those who do not have family and friends, look to the community. "I don't care about getting together with friends or nieghbors anymore"

Frustrated - Caregivers may feel frustrated with the caregiving role, especially if the caregiver is the only one providing care for their loved one, frustrated for feeling frusturated, and frusturated for not being able to make things as they were.

Worry - Caregivers worry about their loved ones. "Is this the right decision?" "Is there anything else I should be doing?" Sleeplessness caused by a never ending list of concerns "What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?"

Guilt - Caregivers may feel guilty because of having some or all of these feelings. They may feel guilty for feeling like they haven't done enough for their loved ones.

 

 

Phases of Coping with an Illness, like Alzheimer's?

Understanding how other people cope with a life-threatening illness may help the patient and his or her family prepare to cope with their own illness. A life-threatening illness may be described as having four phases, including the phase before the diagnosis, the acute phase, the chronic phase, and recovery or death.

The phase before the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is the period of time just before the diagnosis when a person realizes that he or she may develop an illness. This phase is not usually a single moment but extends throughout the period when the person has a physical examination, including various tests, and ends when the person is told of the diagnosis.

The acute phase occurs at the time of the diagnosis when a person is forced to understand the diagnosis and make decisions about his or her medical care.

The chronic phase is the period of time between the diagnosis and the result of treatment. It is the period of time when a patient tries to cope with the demands of life while also undergoing treatment and coping with the side effects of treatment. In Alzheimer's, the period between a diagnosis and death may last many years.

In the recovery phase, people cope with the mental, social, physical, religious and financial effects of the disease.

The final (terminal) phase of a life-threatening illness, like Alzheimer's, occurs when death is likely. The focus then changes from curing the illness or prolonging life to providing comfort and relief from pain. Religious concerns are often the focus during this time.

Coping with Stress

Stress1Educate yourself about the illness of the person you are caring for.

  • The more you know the more comfortable you will feel caring for them.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings
  • A great way to vent is with a support group, through a counselor, or anyone you know that is willing to lend an ear.

It’s important for your health to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise

  • These are all things that will improve your mood and keep you healthy.
  • Taking care of yourself first is the most important way to avoid stress.
  • Relieve your self of some of the hassles that comes with caregiving by setting priorities and using a date book or calendar.

Planning ahead and reminders about what you have to do will only make things easier on you.

Reward yourself.

  • Participate in activities you enjoy and treat yourself.
  • One of the best investments you can make is indulging in a massage.
  • Massage therapy can relax muscles, ease muscle spasm, increase blood flow to skin and muscles and relieve mental and emotional stress.

Surround yourself with a positive environment and positive people.

  • Negative attitudes and moods tend to spread, so stay clear and keep a positive outlook.

Keep your humor;

  • read a light-hearted book or rent a comedic video.
  • Whenever possible try to find humor in your day to help relieve tension.
  • Laughter helps to relax muscles, relieve pain, and boosts the immune system.

Be social.

  • Avoid negative people or people who stress you out
  • Plan outings with friends and keep in touch frequently, this gives you someone to talk to and also surrounds you with people who have an invested interest in your feelings and well being.

Practice relaxation techniques

  • Popular techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, yoga, and tai chi
  • There are many different ways to master these types of stress relief that you can find to fit you and your lifestyle

If caring for elderly, a resource that can aid a caregiver in need of a break is adult day care.

  • Adult day care offers a safe, social, and enjoyable environment for elderly who are no longer independent.
  • This provides a break and relief for caregivers knowing that their patient is in good hand.