Family Med-eZine TeamFriday, 22 Aug 2014, 06:57 pm

Care giving for a critically-ill family member is never easy and there are emotional issues involved as well. It is an extremely exhausting job, and can lead to caregiver stress and burn out. Maintaining caregiver’s sanity, health and most importantly, their positivity, helps build their capacity to provide meaningful care.

Take care of your own needs first 

A caregiver should never ignore their own needs - emotional, physical or social. You may end up feeling physically stressed out and emotionally drained.  It is important to learn to take a break from care-giving once in a while.

  • Relieve stress – yoga, meditation, exercise
  • Visit the doctor for a routine health check-up
  • Take social breaks —visit friends, pursue a hobby, go on a vacation 

Avoid negative thoughts

With time, negative feelings and thoughts tend to develop—since a prolonged illness creates a fear of losing their dear ones. A caregiver may feel guilty for not doing enough. Some ways to avoid this are:

  • Set “realistic” goals and learn to accept the fact that there is a limit to  their physical and mental capabilities
  • Challenge negative thoughts and try to have a positive outlook 
  • Learn to adjust to all types of situations
  • Get rid of any guilt. It is important to remember, that the illness is not anyone’s fault. At best, the patient can be made comfortable

Practice self - gratitude

With time, there may be a feeling of being unappreciated, causing frustration and changes in mental attitude. The classical symptoms usually include - neglecting   responsibilities, feel unconcerned and complaining about everything all the time. One may start losing their sense of worth when the sacrifices made are not being appreciated. Additionally, if there is criticism of the way things are handled, it adds to the frustration.  At such times, the following actions help.

  • Politely ignore hurtful words; after all care-seeker may be going through a lot
  • Convert  negative comments into healthy criticism
  • Self-appreciate yourself for all the good work you are doing

Seek support

Reaching out to the extended healthcare team helps. They would be the best able to provide guidance and suggestions regarding caregiving. Another good idea is to join communities and forums where one can meet other caregivers, discuss common problems & concerns and seek their support & advice.