Care for the Caregiver
Care for the Caregiver
Caring for someone at home can be very rewarding and a treasured experience, but, at the same time, it can exact a toll, both physical and emotional, on the caregiver. Family roles are changing, routine is disrupted and tension, confusion and exhaustion are common. To help you maintain the energy required, we offer the following suggestions:
- Rest = Thinking more clearly
- Exercise = a release from tension and ill feelings
- Humor = a temporary release valve for situations and circumstances that seem hopeless
- Reach out to others for comfort and support. Help others, too. This helps to reduce your own stress and puts your problems in perspective.
- Make choices that are right for you and your family to maintain a sense of control.
- Take one task at a time if feeling overwhelmed. Manage by taking small steps to handle the task.
- Talk about your worries—it’s a good way to release them.
- Remember to include the activities you enjoy often.
- Suggest that family, friends, neighbors or Hospice volunteers help you with meal preparation, grocery shopping, or other tasks.
Hospice of Marion County recognizes the grief that persons experience with the loss of a friend or loved one. People who are grieving go through the healing process in their own way and at their own pace. It is important to express grief in order to reaffirm the reality of loss. This process helps to relieve pain so that healing can begin. To assist in this process, Hospice of Marion County may visit, make telephone calls, provide support groups and hand out literature. Volunteers with expertise in grief comfort may be assigned.
The following are reactions to grief. Please utilize them for yourself and for other family members. Also, please note that tips for your family and how to communicate with others are included. These suggestions are beneficial to children who are dealing with grief as well as adults. Visit our Monarch Center for Hope & Healing site to learn more about programs available.
Physical and Emotional Shock
Immediately after the death of a loved one, the grieving person frequently cannot believe that it is true. Denying loss and feeling helps at this stage for protection from pain. The grieving person may be bewildered and in a daze a this time. Months later, they may not remember what was felt or how they acted during this period. Constant reassurance that this is normal is helpful. Encourage crying. Being comfortable with someone who is crying is difficult. Verbal and non-verbal behavior, showing your acceptance is helpful. Encourage them to carry out day to day functions only.
Losing someone you love seems very unfair. The grieving person may feel resentful and be angry with themselves and others. The anger may be particularly directed at hospitals and doctors for not preventing the loss. They may be angry at the deceased for abandoning them. Allow anger to be expressed. Expression of emotions can help prevent physical illness. Listen. Do not deny the circumstance, even though you may not agree. Let them express anger and tell them it’s okay, even though the anger may be directed at you.
It is not unusual for grieving people to blame themselves for something they did or did not do prior to the loss. They also may feel relieved, especially if the illness was prolonged. They may have a desire to talk about the details of events again and again. Listen without making judgments. Each time they repeat the story, it allows them to accept the reality of the death. Remind them that they are human, their feelings are normal, and that there are events they just can’t control.
Feeling physically and mentally drained, and being unable or unwilling to perform even routine tasks is normal. Other signs of depression are: difficulty in sleeping, change of appetite, feelings of panic, irritability and inability to concentrate. Offer simple ways of living each day, such as getting dressed every day, watching their diet, exercise and rest. As they begin to feel better, explore areas of interest from the past or suggest they begin to do some of the things they always wanted to do.
An increase in responsibilities and changes in their social lives arouse feelings of loneliness or fear. This is especially true for people who have lost their spouse. It is difficult to break the habit of having someone to talk to about the day’s events, family gossip, or just anything that comes to mind. Explore support systems they feel comfortable with, such as friends, neighbors, relatives, or church. Point out that it helps. It may be necessary to tell caring friends specifically what they can do to help. This allows friends to feel they are needed. Remind and assure them that meeting each new challenge, and developing each new friendship, makes the next day easier.
Crying, expressions of feeling, and the passage of time ease the intensity of grief. Grieving people will gradually reach a stage where they accept a loss, remember with less pain and focus on the future. There is no time limit on grief. For some, adjustment to a new life may occur within a few months; for others it could take a year or more. Grief cannot be hurried and an emotional balance returns to the grieving people when they are ready.