Photo by Jsme MILA

We can often only imagine the emotional burden of life as a caregiver since not many of us dedicate ourselves to this type of endeavor.

Eleanor Gaccetta, author of One Caregiver’s Journey (a book about life as a caregiver), shares her insights and experiences about being a sole caregiver and for her mother. Caregivers face many emotional challenges and burdens. Readers will get to know many lessons as well.

Today, we’ll look at these burdens and discuss what caregivers can do to alleviate them for their well-being and health.

You Hear About a Caregiver’s Anxiety in Caregiving Stories

Anxiety is frequently brought on by the perception that things are outside of our control and the inability to manage them again. Anxiety might manifest as irritability, the want to flee, difficulty falling asleep, palpitations, or the need to cry.

Coping strategy: Be mindful of your anxiety; it’s our body’s way of alerting us when things aren’t quite right. When you have anxiety, stop. Inhale. Continue breathing. Say a prayer. Think. Pour yourself some tea. Anything that will allow you to escape the present situation.

Lack of Appreciation Is One of the Strongest Negative Emotional Impacts of Caregiving

caregiver helping elderly woman drink emotional burden of life as a caregiver

Photo by Jsme MILA

People like to think they are independent and self-sufficient.  We prefer not to rely on others for assistance. Sometimes caregiver’s efforts are rejected by their patient who wish to maintain independence. If the patient has dementia the reluctance is greater.

Caregivers experience emotional distress when the person we are providing care to doesn’t acknowledge the amount of effort we are putting in to support them.

Coping Strategy: Caregivers can maintain a journal of their efforts. Writing about the activities that you do every day, having a support system of friends and/or family is comforting and essential staying grounded and resilient during your caregiving journey.

Specific Caregiving Situations Can Make Caregivers Feel Ambivalent

Ambivalence is the conflicting desire to continue what you are currently undertaking and the desire to stop. On challenging days, it’s common to wish this experience would soon end. When things go right, giving someone care can benefit you and the person receiving the care.

The emotional burden of life as a caregiver is incredible. But just like with the book about life as a caregiver that Eleanor Gaccetta wrote, it’s a worthy endeavor. For all the emotional side of caregiving, helping and caring for others is undoubtedly worth it.

Grief Is a Feeling Caregivers Are Often Subjected To

It’s depressing to see the care recipient decline in health and lose the ability to perform tasks that were once simple and effortless. Along with the care recipient, we also mourn the person they once were and the bond we shared with them. Daily losses frequently require us to grieve them because if we don’t, they will manifest as something else.

Coping strategy: Establishing a ritual might occasionally be beneficial. For example: One caregiver would list all the activities her husband could not perform on paper. Then, as a release mechanism, she would walk to the seashore and toss the paper into the water.

Although we often want to run from the anguish that comes with loss, allowing ourselves to experience it helps us heal.

Caregivers Can Also Experience Bouts of Loneliness

woman hugging her knees emotional burden of life as a caregiver

Photo by Alex Green

Sole caregivers do not have the opportunity to connect with others socially on a regular basis. Often sole caregivers may experience loneliness.

When we become unavailable, friends stop calling, and when they do call, we find it difficult to be civil and to speak with them. This is because we assume that “they aren’t interested in hearing about it anymore” or “I have nothing to discuss since my existence is all about caring for others.”

Coping Strategy: Develop a mechanism that reaffirms your commitment to being a caregiver.  If you are a sole caregiver, it is not always possible to leave the situation and engage in outside activities. Often the support system is through conversations with other loved ones who are willing to listen and visit.

The Emotional Burden of Life as a Caregiver Is Tremendous but Can Be Managed

Being a caregiver means those there is the potential to experience heavy emotional burdens. However, the coping strategies we’ve mentioned can help caregivers, professionals, and family members move through the emotional ups and downs together as we provide care.

If you want to read a professional and personal caregiver’s thoughts about this matter, we suggest buying One Caregiver’s Journey by Eleanor Gaccetta. With her book about life as a caregiver, Eleanor can open people’s eyes to the beauty and pain of caregiving. Read some of our other articles as well, and learn the ups and downs of caregiving

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