By Dana Sanders
Do you know someone acting as a caregiver to an aging or disabled parent, maybe a friend, loved-one, or a co-worker? Are you serving as the role of caregiver yourself? Do the emotional challenges seem impossible to deal with some days, and you just don’t know how you can handle anymore?
As a caregiver for my mother, I would like to share my personal experiences and insight on how to successfully cope with the emotional challenges of serving as a caregiver to an aging or disabled parent. In my e-book Becoming Your Parent’s Caregiver, I detail my caregiver experiences and helpful resources to help you cope with all the emotional challenges you may face while serving as caregiver.
I believe the best way for caregivers to cope with the many emotions they will experience in providing care to aging parents is to prepare themselves for the wide range of emotions that pave the long and unforgettable road of caregiving.
Initially caregivers may relish in a great sense of self-worth and accomplishment, believing they have found a worthwhile purpose in their life. While some adult children are thwarted into the role of caregiver unexpectedly, many others eagerly agree to the role with a nurturing perspective that only they can provide the best care for their parent.
However, months or even years down the emotion-paved road of caregiving, the gung ho attitude is usually lost, or quickly dissipating. Caregivers begin to encounter more overwhelming emotions such as fear, frustration, guilt, and even caregiver burnout. When I provided care for my mother, I experienced all of these emotions at one time or another.
The one same fear most caregivers share is that of the unknown. Many caregivers worry that they won’t be able to afford adequate housing, appropriate medical care, or long-term insurance, if and when, the time ever comes to make those decisions. Caregiving to a parent on a limited income can make matters even more stressful. However, caregivers can combat the fear of the unknown by making preparations and planning before making any life-altering decisions.
Aside from fear, caregivers also feel extreme emotions of being overwhelmed at least once during their role as caregiver. Often caregivers feel guilty and torn between spending time with their own families and friends, while acting as a caregiver. Caregivers with a career also feel overwhelmed trying to juggle a career while trying to successfully allocate time to be a caregiver. The legal responsibilities associated with caregiving are also overwhelming. Issues such as naming a Power of Attorney, Living Wills, and Healthcare Proxies, can not only be physically and emotionally draining for a caregiver, but extremely frustrating if preparations haven’t been made in advance.
Usually in the midst of being overwhelmed, the caregiver forgets about the most important person of all - the caregiver. Oftentimes caregivers hold to the belief that they can do it all, never asking siblings or other family members to share in the caregiving responsibilities.
If you or someone you know find yourself in this situation, it’s important to realize asking for help and seeking support groups is not a sign of weakness. There is also a wealth of valuable resources available to help cope with all the emotional challenges of acting as a caregiver to an aging or disabled parent.
Dana Sanders is the author of Becoming Your Parent's Caregiver, an ebook written out of her own experience and that provides resources for desperate and overwhelmed caregivers who don't know how to handle the tremendous burden of caring for aging loved ones. Please visit http://www.caregivingaparent.com for more information.