This post is a summary of Joyce’s interview on this topic on the Five to Thrive radio program. By UB student intern, Jessica Kiragu.
Caregiving for an ill family member can be physically demanding and an exhausting experience. Caregivers are faced with various challenges as they tend to loved ones. These challenges can include advocating for their loved one and navigating medical treatment, struggling with family conflicts around how best to care for a loved one, and juggling caregiving responsibilities on top of other daily responsibilities. Because of the emotional, physical, and relationship strain, caregivers are likely to experience greater stress, worry, anxiety, as well as grief. Resentment powerlessness, and guilt are also normal responses caregivers face. Increased stress and strain felt by caregivers can often lead to health problems, such as hypertension, overeating, and lack of restorative sleep. Other issues caregivers face, are financial struggles, family conflict, and adjusting to changes in traditional roles. Caregiver burnout is a syndrome of emotional and physical depletion as a response to the demands of care taking combined with a lack of self-care.
To prevent burnout, self-care is crucial for the caregiver. Self-care is not only important for the caregiver but also for the person receiving the care. Caregiver self-care improves the caregiver’s ability to provide care and lessens the risk that the ill loved one will feel guilt or anxiety because the caregiver is seen as depleted. Caregivers can benefit from caring for themselves in several specific ways. Self-care is a very important piece to maintaining the caregivers own health.
Self-care practices can include:
- Adequate sleep
- Regular exercise
- Leisure and fun
- Getting support from family, friends, support groups, therapist, faith community, spiritual advisor etc.
- Setting appropriate boundaries and good communication in order to explain their own feelings, limitations and struggles
- Letting go of a guilt mantra and to maintain the belief that I am doing the best that I can!
Holding to the perspective that this experience can be one that has the possibility to bring blessings, healing, and growth can also benefit the caregiver.