Who cares for the caregiver?

Following the post ‘I cannot deal with my husband’s illness’, I received a comment from the reader Sara Guelha, Clinical Psychologist, about the role of the caregiver.

“Often our attention is focused on the sick and we forget who cares and is always by their side.” Among doubts regarding the best way to care, I often hear heartache or complaints of extreme physical and emotional exhaustion. What I can do is never enough, but sometimes an attentive ear or a hug is enough to help and dry tears and lift, even if only temporarily, the weight of these exhausted hearts:

“Caring for a family member is, as a rule, a lasting experience that will require significant changes in life and a re-adaptation to new routines and requirements.

Regarding the activity of caring, the most important and necessary care can be identified as: accompanying the medical appointments, the caring or affection, the satisfaction of needs, the comfort and vigilance, the financial management and communication, the medication management and the support with clothing.

The act of caring has positive impacts on the caregiver, such as increasing the meaning of one’s life, feelings of gratification and self-fulfillment, fulfillment of one’s moral duty, personal well-being and one’s growth as a person, as well as the feeling of family unity.

However, caring is a source of stress, with risks for the caregiver, such as overloading tasks and increased responsibility, providing direct, continuous care, intense care and treatment, and requiring emotional availability; concern and constant tension, anxiety, the burden of financial burdens, being faced with difficult and unpredictable decisions and chronic fatigue.

Thus, the caregiver should seek to maintain the family routine, try to maintain an assertive and positive relationship, active and spontaneous communication with the dependent and other family members, as well as sharing responsibilities and tasks, focus on the positive aspects of caring, sharing anxieties and experiences with other informal caregivers.

The caregiver should not leave aside the activities that allow him to recover from the tiredness and tensions of everyday life. Although a person’s care requires full attention and increased emotional effort, the caregiver must sleep the necessary hours, exercise regularly, avoid social isolation, and maintain hobbies and interests.

In addition to all these strategies, the caregiver should seek professional help, use institutions/associations, not only to help the patient with hygiene, food and health care, but also a psychologist to guide the caregiver in finding the necessary tools for her/his well-being and emotional balance”.

Thank you, Sara, for sharing!

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