-Caregivers Need To Relax-

People who take on a caregiving role for extended, lengthy periods of time often suffer from stress type issues that have been termed "Caregiver Syndrome".  It's real and it affects about 75% of caregivers.  It usually strikes woman harder than men.  Signs to look for are: exhaustion, loneliness, frustration and anger.


    Often times the caregiver compounds or makes these problems worse because they feel like they shouldn't have these emotions.  The truth of the matter is that it is very normal to feel this way.  Where it becomes problematic is when the caregiver attempts to deny they are feeling negative and then they go right back to caregiving the same way they have always done.  Then bad feelings come back and then they deny and then the cycle starts all over again, causing the caregiver to cycle deeper and deeper into the negative emotions mentioned earlier.      


    Instead, the caregiver needs to acknowledge that they have these emotions and not "beat themselves up" for it, but be willing to do something different.  For example, I encourage all caregivers to find a safe place to "vent" their emotions.  That can be formally done in a counseling setting or with a friend or in a group.  But basically, this needs to be done somewhere they can just spill the bad and the ugly, unfiltered, and not be judged for it. 


      Another thing that I highly recommend is what I call "mandatory respite days".  That's basically, one-two days a week and/or a weekend a month where the caregiver turns over those caregiving duties to someone else.  The caregiver goes away and does something just for them.  The problem is the caregiver will many times fight you like crazy that they don't want to do that.  They have to be convinced that they are not abandoning the person they are caring for.  That's why they resist.  I tell family to be flat out insistent and make them go.  Usually after about 3-4 times of doing it and being able to "recharge their battery" caregivers feel refreshed and clear-minded and no longer will resist taking a respite from their caregiving duties; they welcome it. 


     Another way to manage this issue is to find a care giver support group to attend. Search for places in your community that offer these services. People can check with their local family physician, nursing homes and hospice care organizations.  These organizations usually have that information readily available.  I have found the hospice organizations specifically have a wealth of information along a variety of similar topics and a person doesn't have to be in hospice to obtain some of their information and activities.


Ultimately, we want to be there for our loved ones as they grow older but more importantly we need to be able to be there for them more effectively.  Which is why as the classic saying goes, “you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself” rings true. 


 God Bless,

    Curtis Owen

              Counseling Pastor