A major part of caregiver stress is caused by emotions – here are two tips for managing these tough caregiver emotions.
Caring for an older adult is a stressful challenge that often takes a toll on your health. But only part of that stress comes from juggling day-to-day tasks. A big contributor is the strong emotions that naturally come up while caregiving.
To reduce the stress from caregiver emotions, we asked experienced social worker Florence Marchick for advice. She’s worked with aging adults and their families for over 24 years, so she truly understands the tough issues that caregivers face.
How to identify common caregiver emotions
Identifying and acknowledging your emotions is the first step to dealing with them. Have you had any of these thoughts? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Florence has talked with countless numbers of caregivers with these same feelings.
- I’m not doing enough.
- I promised I would always care for dad at home.
- I should be doing a better job.
- I shouldn’t be feeling angry or resentful.
Sadness and depression
- I’ve lost so much.
- I just can’t cope.
- I can’t stand for things to be this way.
- It’s hopeless-there’s nothing I can change.
- I feel abandoned. Friends and family have dropped away.
- I have nobody to talk to anymore.
- My social life is nonexistent. When would I have time for outside relationships?
- I can’t socialize. I have to stay home all the time to watch mom.
2 tried-and-true tips for managing caregiver emotions
There’s no sugarcoating it caregiving is a difficult and sometimes thankless job that comes with plenty of strong emotions.
Here are Florence’s top two pieces of advice that she always recommends to families she works with.
1. Find support from people who understand
Finding people who really “get it” might mean going to a local support group, joining an online support group, or talking with friends and family who are also caring for older adults. Today, 1 in 5 people are caring for an aging adult, so it won’t be too hard to find someone who’s having similar experiences. Venting your anger and frustration and sharing your experiences makes you feel better and takes a weight off your shoulders. Talking with others is also a chance to give and receive tips for solving the problems that keep you up at night. And sometimes, talking through a problem can lead you to a brilliant solution or help you accept a difficult decision.
2. Find humor wherever you can
As the saying goes, you can either laugh or cry. Finding the humor wherever you can, even in dark times, is an amazing coping technique. After you’ve had a good cry, move on to finding the laughter whenever possible. Don’t feel guilty about looking for humorous moments, you’re not laughing at your older adult. You’re laughing at a ridiculous situation. Often, your laughter could inspire your older adult to laugh too. That eases tension and lightens the mood. Another reason to talk with others who are also caring for seniors is so you can laugh together about things only caregivers would understand. You’re like co-workers in the field of caregiving, poking fun at the crazy parts of your job. Trying to share the joke with non-caregivers often doesn’t work.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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