Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

The emotional side of caregiving

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Caring for someone will involve coping with an array of different feelings. Of course, the intensity of the feelings experienced is based on the level of care you give. If the elder you are looking after just needs company and conversation, you may not be experiencing too many difficulties in your carer role. But if you need to help an elder suffering from a terminal illness, dementia or Alzheimer’s, you will probably have to cope with more issues. As a carer, you may be coping with your loved one’s physical and emotional needs, which can be very tiring because you are coping with your own feelings as well. You can’t just ignore the way you are feeling. Even the strongest person out there has their limits. Some of the things you may have to cope with as a carer are:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loneliness
  • Grief
  • Helplessness
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Resentment

Being a carer, especially if it’s your first time offering care, you will be experiencing these things. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and to be going through all these feelings. Do not out yourself down and try not to give yourself a hard time. It’s common for a carer to be experiencing these feelings. Understanding this can help you cope with your feelings. The key when being a carer is just being kind to yourself and thinking positively. This is how you can cope with your care role and the feelings that it inevitably brings with it.

If you’re feeling down and discouraged, another good idea is to share your feelings with someone close to you, such as a spouse or a friend. If you don’t feel like you can do that, maybe speak to your GP or a health care or social care professional. Either way, speaking about your feelings is the best way to cope as a carer. If you keep your feelings locked inside, it can be worse - you may end up being depressed. If you are constantly tired, forgetful, and don’t have an appetite it will only add to your depression. Here are some signs you should take into consideration which can lead to depression:

  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling sad and hopeless
  • Feeling irritable

Your health and your sanity comes above your carer job, so you should always look out for the signs, identify them and do not let them go unnoticed.

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