Being a family caregiver may give the kin complete control over the patient’s health, but with this also comes experiencing the ups and downs of caregiving.
Caregiving is no easy task. It requires learning multiple skills and developing physical and mental endurance to navigate multiple pleasant and unpleasant situations. Caregivers know these are what makes it special. It’s genuine, compassionate assistance, offering time and effort without asking for anything in return. Being a family caregiver is simply a responsibility one takes because one wholeheartedly cares about the patient. It’s not about the incentives they may receive, nor is it done to relieve the individual of shame or guilt. Instead, it’s a service done out of the purity of love.
However, while it’s considered heroic, caregivers experience their fair share of ups and downs. It is not an easy task to undertake. Caregivers choose to accept these burdens. It is society’s responsibility to provide some relief to the burdens caregivers carry. But it’s something these individuals have chosen to undergo. Hence, it’s society’s responsibility to help alleviate their burden even a bit.
The Ups and Downs of Caregiving
Regardless of how optimistic and promising family caregiving is, there still exists a downside to this endeavor. The reality of family caregiving can be read from the words and experience of author Eleanor Gaccetta, as she went through the whole ordeal for her mother. In One Caregiver’s Journey, she shares her experiences providing care for her aged, ailing mother 24/7 for almost a decade.
However, Eleanor’s guidebook for caregivers doesn’t only document the possible scenarios these individuals may face. It doesn’t only recount what the author had to prepare and the competencies she had to build up to play the part adequately. In addition, the book also identifies the emotions caregivers can encounter throughout the process. This is where their vulnerability becomes more evident.
Through Eleanor’s lens, readers are told about the complexities of caregiving and how it can take a toll on these individuals. It presents them not only as service providers but also as receivers, presenting the ups and downs of caregiving. After all, while they’re primarily assisting the needs of their family members, it can’t be avoided that they will be exposed to its emotional side, an additional affliction they’d have to resolve and share with the patient.
This is where the difference between family caregivers and professionals can be spotlighted.
Although empathy is required in professional caregiving, these service providers are taught and often encouraged to distance themselves from their patients. This way, they don’t experience any hardships when it’s time to bid goodbye or part ways.
However, this setting isn’t possible for those who volunteer to become their family’s caregiver.
The Emotional Pitfalls of Caregiving
A massive part of the ups and downs of caregiving falls under the emotional aspect of the assistance. Whether related to stress or simply empathy with the patient, caregiving can be emotional. This is especially true for family caregivers, who may often stand as their family’s rock. They have to be strong and composed despite the situation they’re in, an unwavering strength in holding everyone together, the pillar they can hold onto for support.
However, being in this situation can also be detrimental to their well-being.
It may seem counterintuitive to carry an emotional burden when helping someone very special and close to one’s heart, but this is unavoidable. But most often, it results in burying these feelings and never addressing them appropriately. They might even nurture feelings of shame simply because they’ve felt these emotions. It seems like part of the self-judgment they’d have to endure for this dynamic is one of the crucial factors that command the ups and downs of caregiving.
The reality is that assisting will always have an emotional burden as a counterpart, and there shouldn’t be any shame in it. Complaining isn’t equivalent to harboring negative thoughts about the assistance. It shouldn’t also pollute the purity of one’s motivation or reason. Many emotions can come up when one overworks or interacts with another person, and these should be normalized.
Family Caregivers Aren’t Perfect, nor Are They Saints
When they express feeling anything aside from compassion, sadness, or happiness during their service, family caregivers can quickly receive judgment. But what the others have forgotten is that these individuals are still humans. They may be doing something selfless, but this doesn’t mean they don’t value their personal lives and feelings.
Even if their emotions are at the extremes, like anger or frustration, they shouldn’t be judged nor shamed for exhibiting such. Occasionally caregivers feel frustration even if caring for someone can be relieving. It can make some the happiest and most fulfilled in their lives, but they also have limits. After all, these emotions still exist in their consciousness and are only waiting to be triggered and tickled.
From an audience’s perspective, it can be easy to question the purity behind caregivers’ actions if they harbor anger. But, depending on how they react to such emotions, this experience should still be considered normal within the caregiving field.
Pick up a copy of One Caregiver’s Journey on amazon or at www.onecaregiversjourney.com and share in one caregiver’s decade journey.