Caring for a loved one can be rewarding. You take pride in taking care of your parents even if you have to step back from your personal plans right now. Some Americans find it more practical to care for their loved ones on their own rather than hire a caregiver or put their loved ones in a care facility. But what many don’t see is the emotional and psychological turmoil that these caregivers often have to suffer through. The emotional impact of caring for a loved one may snowball over time.
This is why there’s still a huge demand for home care providers. Caregiver burnout is not simply a myth. People who have to care for a loved one have to suffer through the emotional and psychological challenges of watching their loved one’s health deteriorates. But the worst part is that caregivers are often left unchecked. No one bothers to check how they are doing emotionally. People may acknowledge that they are physically exhausted, though. Have you been caring for a family member? When was the last time someone actually asked you about your mental and emotional health?
When you’re a caregiver, taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. Asking for one day each week to relax and have time for yourself isn’t being greedy or selfish. It is knowing that to better care for someone, you need to care for yourself, too. Nurturing your own emotional and mental needs is as important as caring for the physical needs of a loved one. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Anxiety and Depression
It is easier to notice the signs of physical exhaustion. You have dark circles under your eyes. You’re losing weight. You don’t look like yourself. But the signs of depression and anxiety aren’t always physical. These are the demons you try to wrestle with at night. Even though you are exhausted throughout the day, you find yourself unable to sleep at night. Your mind is restless. Your body refuses to cooperate and relax.
And then there’s this: resentfulness. You are going to feel increasingly resentful about the fact that you have to do this. It’s not about how much you love or care for a family member. The fact that you have to sacrifice your career and put your personal life on hold can take its toll on you. The resentfulness will creep in at an inopportune time. You will begin to resent not only your situation but the people around you.
As a result, you will neglect your duties. You won’t care that the dishes are unwashed or that you have forgotten a medication on time. You’re cutting back on your responsibilities. Your mind begins to deny that you alone are responsible for what happens in that house. This is dangerous both for you and the people you are caring for.
You’ve got to give yourself a break. Ask another family member to take over your responsibilities during the weekend. They can split the hours so that they can have a bit of rest themselves. Don’t budge on your demands. You need to rest. You need a day or two to relax. This is going to be helpful for everyone involved in this process.