Today, 1 of 3 adults in the United States is an informal caregiver. Since you probably haven’t been trained for this task, you may feel the conflicting emotions of a caregiver. Some days you will have a deep sense of fulfillment and connection. Other days you may feel guilt, grief, and even anger. It’s important to remember that all of your emotions are normal.
You may feel that you’re not doing enough and that a part of you hopes it will all end soon. These feelings won’t help your loved one. Instead of feeling guilty, recognize the good that you are doing. Do you feel you could improve? Join a support group and find out how you can change what you are doing for the better.
Grief isn’t just about losing a loved one to death. When your loved one gets sick, this is also a loss. You may need time to process the loss of a relationship that you valued. Let yourself cry and mourn.
Your loved one may not be able to express thanks for all that you are doing. This can make you feel unappreciated and even trapped. If you find that you are losing your temper or yelling, recognize that you probably need a break. And then forgive yourself.
It’s natural to worry what will happen if you aren’t around. You may also worry about making a mistake. These feelings of anxiety happen when we feel out of control. Try to install a backup system that your loved one can use to call for help if he needs it and you are away. This will give you peace of mind.
Many caregivers suffer from a loss of sleep. A recent study found that caregivers lost between 2.5 to 3.5 hours of sleep a week due to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Try to take short naps to make up for the sleep you lose.
Remember that in order for you to take care of these conflicting emotions of a caregiver, you need to take care of yourself.
- Eat healthy
- Exercise 30 minutes a day
- Meet a friend.
- Keep your own doctor’s appointments
- Meditate or do yoga