Caregivers' Common Feelings
When you're caring for an elderly loved one, it's normal to feel sad or discouraged from time to time. Ignoring your feelings won't make them go away; in fact, it may even make them grow stronger. Instead, try these six suggestions from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
If you feel sad
Include some pleasant activities in your daily schedule. Listening to your favorite music or spending some time in the garden, for example, can lift your spirits. Even a quick phone call with a supportive friend may be enough to lighten your mood.
If you feel discouraged
Remember to take it one day at a time. Try to stay flexible, and accept that there are things you can't change. In addition, make a concerted effort to focus on the positive events and people in your life.
If you feel afraid
Talk to someone about the worst thing that could possibly happen, and plan what you would do step by step. Planning for the future will help reduce your fear of the unknown.
If you feel angry
Take a break, and leave the situation if possible. A quick walk can help defuse your feelings. If you can't leave, stop and take a few deep, deliberate breaths. Focus your anger on the condition, not the person you're caring for.
If you feel guilty
Give yourself credit for what you do well. Be realistic about what's possible and what isn't. Focus on one thing you want to do better, and be specific. "If only I could make her eat" won't be as helpful as "I will slow down and make mealtimes more pleasant."
If you feel overwhelmed
Finally, take care of yourself. Share responsibilities whenever possible, and remember to take a little time for yourself each day. In addition, talk to someone who can help you look at things more objectively, perhaps a friend, a fellow caregiver, or a professional counselor.
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