Caregiver Fatigue, Fear & Frustration – The 3 F’s of Flipping Out
Caregiver Fatigue: Caregivers often reach a point of physical, mental, and emotional tiredness that most people can’t even begin to perceive. If you are experiencing exhaustion on any or all of these levels, it will be critically important for you to find a way to get some rest.
Tips for dealing with caregiver fatigue:
- Set aside some time for yourself each day to do something you enjoy. Let your care receiver know that this is your time and you do not want to be disturbed.
- Join a caregiver support group. Sharing your stories with other caregivers can release tension, provide a safe environment to express negative emotions, and let you know that you are not alone on this journey.
- Seek respite care. If you don’t have family or friends who can provide relief, enroll your care receiver in an adult day care program.
- Some of these programs are free; some are based on income and your ability to pay. Non-medical home care agencies can send someone to your home who will act like “the other daughter”. These people will run errands, do light housekeeping, provide companion services and help with non-medical activities of daily living.
Fear is described in the dictionary as an unpleasant emotion that is caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or harm. As a caregiver, you know the disease or the injury is there and it can feel like the boogie man in the closet or the monster under the bed. Family caregivers fear how bad it’s going to get, how long it’s going to last, or how much it’s going to cost. And you aren’t at all sure that either one of you is strong enough to handle it.
Strategies for coping with caregiver fear:
Write down the the things that frighten you the most.
Ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that could possibly happen?” Determine if your fears are based on:
- Events that are likely to happen
- The worst possible thing that could happen
- Things that may never happen
If you know that the worst thing that could happen will happen, and if there is
nothing you can do to control the events or change the outcome, take charge by
making an action list of things you need to do in order to get prepared.
If you decide that the worst thing that could happen may not happen, you may want to
lessen your emotional stress by choosing to release your feelings fear and focus on
finding the pleasure and joy in the moment.
We live in a time when we think there should be a solution for every problem and a cure for every disease. When we are caring for individuals who have progressive and degenerative diseases, it’s only natural that we’d feel frustrated because every new day brings a new challenges and complications for which there are no answers or solutions.
Strategies for coping with caregiver frustration:
Take a break and get some physical exercise. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride. A quick
trip to a gym or an exercise class can help blow off steam. If you can’t get away for
more than a few minutes, go outside and breathe in deeply.
Feel the fresh air fill your lungs and expand your abdomen. Breathe in deeply for a
count of eight seconds. Hold it for eight seconds, and then blow the air out through your
mouth for a count of eight. Repeating this deep breathing exercise several times will
help release toxins from your body, elevate the oxygen in your blood, lower your blood
pressure and reduce stress.
Find a safe place to express your feelings. Call a friend, go to a support group meeting,
talk to your clergy or set an appointment with a mental health professional. People who
bottle up their emotions are more vulnerable to angry outbursts and depression.
The important thing to remember that self-care is not selfish. Taking a break from the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of caregiving will provide you with the energy you need to continue doing what has to be done.
Nothing will eliminate caregiver anger – because there are just too many issues for anyone to deal with to stay calm all of the time. But when you invest a little time and energy in your own care, you will likely have more patience and energy to give your care receiver the time and attention he/she needs.