Managing the Emotional Challenges of Care Giving
By Stephen Britchkow, Licensed Psychologist
Bucks and Eastern Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania
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 how well you take care of yourself, empowering yourself to be there for the person
you are caring for.
Family members care for around seventy-five percent of the elderly at home. Based on current
average life expectancy this can mean a commitment of ten to twenty years.
Seeing your loved one's decline is an experience of loss and involves grief. You may respond in
the following ways: Denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance. People often cycle back
and forth through the stages before coming to acceptance. The caretaker role causes tremendous
stress. Financially, caregivers are often required to spend their own money to cover expenses.
They can become upset with siblings not taking a more active role or resisting to pay costs.
The primary caregiver, often a daughter, may be required to work less or stop working altogether
to care for the parent. This can result in excruciating demands on time and emotional commitment.
It is common to feel:
- Anger and resentment about deprivation and isolation
- Anxiety and frustration-unresolved family member conflicts
- Loss of control
- Guilt and denial
- Burn out
Remind yourself that you can only do the best you can and this offers a special
opportunity to express your love for your parents.
You have the right to:
- Ask for outside help
- Resist anyone manipulating your emotions
- Express negative feelings in appropriate ways
- Take good care of yourself and plan for your own future
- Consider getting support from individual or couple therapy
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