Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. Today I am talking about the emotional aspects of family care giving. Home Instead Senior Care interviewed over a thousand family caregivers across North America to better understand how caregivers are coping.
We learned that individuals caring for a senior parent or other older family member experience a wide range of emotions on their family care giving journey. In fact, most experience positive emotions such as love, tenderness, gratitude, appreciation, satisfaction and accomplishment.
However, some caregivers especially those who care for someone with dementia or spend significant amounts of time each week as a family caregiver are more likely to experience difficult emotions such as frustration, anger and a sense of being overwhelmed.
How we think about our feelings can make a big difference. Many of us believe that feelings such as love and tenderness are good and then anger, frustration or resentment are bad or somehow wrong.
This can complicate things, because we may feel guilty about the emotions we think we shouldn't feel. But really are no good or bad emotions, there are just emotions. Sadly, many family caregivers struggle with difficult emotions and end up repressing those feelings.
What ends up happening is that these caregivers will most likely see their own health suffer with conditions such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, waking and depression, and even thoughts of suicide. The good news is that there are steps that family caregivers can take to better cope with these emotions.
First is to acknowledge all of the feelings both positive and negative. Second is to release them in a safe way by talking or keeping a journal. Third is to manage the family care giving situation by getting help if necessary.
And lastly, caregivers should find solutions to relax, such as taking time even in short amounts to engage in activities they enjoy.