Posted on: Jul 19, 2017
The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute conducted a study to “present a portrait of unpaid family caregivers today.” The study, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 estimates that 39.8 million Americans care for an aging adult every year. On average, caregivers spend just over 24 hours a week providing care to their loved one, while 23% provide 41 or more hours of care a week.
It can be physically and emotionally taxing to be a caregiver. In fact, the study found that people caring for a close relative, such as a spouse or parent, are at a much greater risk of declining health as a result of caregiving. Four in ten caregivers surveyed considered their situation to be “highly stressful.”
If you’re a caregiver and struggling with difficult emotions, you’re not alone.
Coping With The Emotions of Caregiving
You may have heard this from your doctor, friends, or relatives, but it bears repeating: it is important to take time to take care of yourself. This means different things to different people. Maybe it means taking walks in nature, spending time with friends, or doing other activities that bring joy into your life.
It is normal for caregivers to experience difficult emotions as a result of their caregiving duties. NextAvenue, a PBS system media outlet for aging Americans, shares The 7 Deadly Emotions of Caregiving by Paula Spencer Scott. In her article, Scott goes over tips for coping with many of the difficult feelings that come with caring for another.
Here are just a few tips from her article:
- Guilt: For many caregivers guilt is unavoidable. Even with the best intentions, your time, resources, and skills are limited. If you’re struggling with feelings of guilt, Scott says to “try to get comfortable with that gap between perfection and reality instead of beating yourself up over it.”
- Resentment: This is a difficult emotion for people to admit to or talk about. Scott encourages caregivers to talk about any feelings of resentment with a trusted confidante. Sometimes getting it out can bring some relief.
- Loneliness: Intense demands on your time can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. If you’re feeling this way, consider joining a caregiver support group. Also, reach out to your friends and try to plan at least one outside activity every week.
Learn more about the difficult emotions caregivers may face and tips on how to cope with them here.
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