Are you a caregiver to a chronically ill person or an elderly individual that requires assistance with their daily living activities?
The struggles and pressures of being a caregiver.
Very often chronic illness and the demanding needs of the elderly can create feelings of sadness and gloom not only for the individual receiving care but also the caregiver and the entire family. The family struggles with the knowledge that they will lose their loved one sometime in the near future. The wish for a cure for the terminal or chronically ill person is normal and understood. The individual with the chronic illness or elderly often feel isolated, their world has shrunk and they struggle with the fear of the future.
Caregivers will often report increased relational conflict with others as a direct result of the demanding responsibilities of being a caregiver. It is often reported that caregivers experience increased anxiety, sadness and a decline in their overall wellness. The caregiver’s coping strategies are often insufficient to manage their ever-demanding duties. It is often difficult for the caregiver to maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle.
Suggestions to assist the caregiver:
- Do not let the illness or the needs of the elderly person become all consuming.
- The caregiver and the individual needing care should try to do social activities together. These activities will help to increase conversations, which do not center around the needs of the elderly or the illness.
- Caregivers need a respite from their responsibilities. They need to ask for help and relief from their duties. This respite will help to refresh and rejuvenate the caregiver.
- Attend a support group for caregivers, which help to normalize the caregiver’s feelings and provide emotional support. Information about available support groups can be found at local hospitals, social agencies, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and various religious groups and centers.
- Participate in counseling with a licensed therapist. Individuals who participate in counseling report feelings of being lighter, calmer and less overwhelmed. A non-judgmental setting helps clients to feel safe and protected. Clients who are able to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with their counselor find it much easier to open up and be more vulnerable about their experiences and feelings with being a caregiver.
The number of caregivers in our nation will only grow as it is estimated there will be 72 million Americans over the age of 65 in the year 2030.
Finding a way out of our challenges and struggles builds resiliency and strength