Emotions and Caregiving: Tips on Finding a Balance When Caring for Your Loved Ones

Chronic illness does not just affect the patient; it also affects the caregiver. Most caregivers struggle with strong emotions, including guilt and anger but push them aside to focus on their loved ones. The result is often burnout and unhealthy stress levels that lead to physical issues, which most people in senior living are already at high risk of developing. In fact, women who care for their spouses daily without reprieve are twice as likely to develop heart issues.

While many caregivers will say that nothing is more fulfilling than caring for their loved ones, the statistics suggest otherwise. Caregivers often ignore their own health, do not get enough sleep, and a whopping 40-70% of caregivers suffer from depression.

With this in mind, self-care is essential if you are a caregiver, but you need to learn to balance your emotions to take care of yourself. Here is a quick look at the strongest emotions caregivers face and what you can do about them. Whether you are facing a decision about assisted living or another senior living issue, this advice is invaluable for preserving your mental health.

Drowning in Guilt as a Caregiver

Guilt is an unavoidable emotion for many caregivers, and it is also one of the strongest emotions there is. Caregivers often feel guilty that they cannot do it all and are always thinking of things they can’t do instead of everything they can. You need to reframe your perspective to avoid the suffocating guilt that often follows caregivers around. For instance, instead of feeling intense guilt about placing a spouse in assisted living, think about how you can visit every day and enjoy meals with them.

Silent Oppressive Nature of Resentment

No one wants to admit that they resent the person they are caring for, but resentment is a very human emotion, and when not acknowledged, it will bubble forward at inappropriate times. You don’t want your next family gathering to turn into drama-worthy television. The best way to do this is to by finding someone you can confidentially vent to outside of the senior living environment. Whether you occasionally resent the person you are caring for because your life seems hijacked (it’s human, and it’s okay) or resent other family members for not helping out more, you need to release this emotion before it consumes you.

Development of Constant Worry

Everyone worries about their loved one from time to time. Whether you are worried that a senior living move wasn’t the right choice or whether an assisted living will be enough, it’s normal to worry. However, if you lay awake all night running “what-if” scenarios through your head, you won’t be helping anyone. The problem with anxiety is that it tends to turn into a circular thought pattern, and it will consume you before long. Anxiety can lead to headaches, stomach aches, chronic GI issues, migraines, and even heart disease. If constant worries interfere with your life, it may be time to find a professional to talk to.

Uncontrollable Anger

Even the most patient caregiver can get angry at the world, their loved ones, and themselves. Anger is often an easier emotion to produce than sadness, worry, and compassion which is why it is the first to bubble out. In addition, caregivers tend to be short on sleep, overbooked, and develop poor eating habits, which can help anger grow. Simple meditation chants, soothing mantras, or learning to talk to others to vent when necessary are all positive ways to deal with your anger to be a better caregiver and preserve your health.

Conclusion

It can be hard to deal with the emotions that come with being a caregiver. There are many common feelings that caregivers experience, such as guilt, stress, and fatigue. Learning how to manage these feelings can help you feel more balanced and secure.