Caregivers entering Stage 2 are normally providing more than 10 hours of care per week. As mentioned last week, the caregiving duties are starting to turn into a ‘job’ and your time is getting limited. This is where the stress typically starts to set in. The major emotions associated with Stage 2 are guilt, frustration, and anxiety.
Feelings of guilt start to set in because of the ever-increasing pressure of the care requirement. This is when caregivers begin to question if they’re doing enough. Sometimes they even go as far as to blame themselves for the deterioration in their loved one’s condition.
With the guilt comes frustration. Despite all the time and effort that is being put into taking care of the person, their condition continues to worsen. When you add to this that many care recipients are no longer able to appreciate the care that is provided, it can be incredibly frustrating and anxiety creeps in. There can be a lot of fear surrounding what is yet to come.
The keyword for handling the emotions of Stage 2 is Find.
- Find time for yourself and relax — finding time for yourself is not being selfish, it’s being responsible. If you burnout because of stress, then you won’t be able to help anyone.
- Find reliable family members to pitch in— delegate tasks to family, friends, and neighbours. Getting help with things like errands, appointments, housekeeping, and meal preparation can be a huge relief.
- Find community organizations to help you— available resources can range from public home care, private home care, volunteer programs, and community outreach programs.
- Find joy in your relationship— no matter how serious the conditions are, there is always some joy in a relationship. Focus on the positives, build on it and enjoy it!
- Find forgiveness for any past grievances— past grievances can cause deep rifts. It is important to bring them out, deal with them and put them behind you!
In Stage 3 the person’s condition is getting worse and harder to deal with. This is when caregivers start to feel overwhelmed and the emotions they’ve been able to keep in check become too much.
In addition to the emotions experienced during Stage 2 — guilt, frustration, and anxiety — caregivers start to feel trapped and resentment creeps in. You may feel like your mom or dad is taking all your time and their care is consuming you. This is exacerbated by feelings of horrible guilt that bubble up when you think of stepping away, even for a short period of time. What happens if they pass when you’re not there? And, to make matters worse, these emotions usually coincide with them no longer being capable of appreciating your efforts. You’re giving everything of yourself and they simply don’t understand.
The keyword for coping with your emotions at Stage 3 is Accept.
- Accept help that is offered — if someone offers to help, let go and accept their offer.
- Accept the fact that you need to take care of yourself — if you don’t take a break, the caring will break you.
- Accept that you cannot heal your loved one — now more than ever you need to accept their condition and let go.
- Accept a break— if someone offers you a break so that you can step away for a short period of time, take it. You need to accept that there is no way of knowing when your loved one will pass and that the break will do much more good than harm.
Stress is a personal thing. We all feel it differently and react to it differently. It is important to take care of yourself in this area.
Do you need help in the area of Dementia Care? Check out this available resource: Fit Minds Family Caregiver Program