Few people are prepared for the responsibilities and tasks involved in caring for loved ones who are ill, elderly, or disabled. The success of the relationship between you and your loved one depends on several factors. One of the most important is how well you take care of yourself, empowering yourself to be there for the person you are caring for. Let's look first at what causes the stress in such a relationship, and then we will explore some ways to car for yourself as you care for another.
Sources of Stress
Caring for someone who is sick or disabled causes tremendous stress. this stress comes from several directions and each has a different effect on the caregiver. The following are the main sources of such stress:
Being far away: In most families, people are spread out across the country and are not always available to help with caring for a sick or elderly person. This places extra stress on the person nearby, who often must contribute the most in terms of time and money toward the patient's care. The out-of-towners may not realize how much time and money the person close at hand in devoting to the care of their family member.
Financial Stress: is inevitable when someone requires an excessive amount of care. For example:
Many caregivers spend their own money to cover expenses that are not covered by insurance or Medicare.
The family members who are less involved may not realize how expensive certain items are and may even resist helping to pay for them.
The primary caregiver may have to work fewer hours or find less demanding work (which may pay less). Many caregivers stop working completely due to the level of care the patient needs.
Cultural expectations: In some cultures, daughters are expected to care for parents, and in others it is not acceptable t6o place relatives in nursing homes.
Relationship stress: In addition to the financial stress, all of these factors create enormous stress on the relationships among family members. This can lead to an additional layer of problems it is not openly discussed and resolved.
Physical stress: Caring for an ailing person can be a physical challenge. Activities like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and shopping can be exhausting, especially when they are added to the responsibilities of your own life.
Home alterations: If the patient continues to live at home, you may need to make alterations such as building ramps or railings. Everyone in the home will have to adjust.
Social stress: Providing personal care 24 hours a day can cut off the primary care-giver from family and friends. You may be too tired to have an evening out, or you may not have anyone else to take over. This can result in your feeling angry and resentful toward the person you are caring for.
Emotional stress: As a result of these stressors, it is not unusual to feel a range of emotions, including anger, resentment, anxiety, frustration, sadness, and guilt. These negative emotions may conflict with the love you feel for your family member and the satisfaction you feel from contributing to the quality of his or her life.
With all these kinds of stress, it not surprising that many caregivers become over-whelmed and begin to feel burned out.
Continued next week ..................