A Family denots a household establishment and refers to a “group of individuals living together during important phases of their lifetime and bound to each other by biological and/or social and psychological relationship”. Unlike the western society, which puts impetus on “individualism”, the Indian society is “collectivistic” in that it promotes interdependence and co-operation, with the family forming the focal point of this social structure.
Many seniors feel confused, frustrated or vulnerable when they risk losing freedoms they have grown accustomed to. It can even lead to a decline in their health because of the stress on their mental wellbeing. Providing care for a family member in need is an act of kindness, love, and loyalty. You may be taking care of an aging parent or a handicapped spouse. Regardless of your particular circumstances, you're facing a challenging new role.
What you may feel about being a family caregiver:
Anxiety and worry –You may worry about how you will handle the additional responsibilities of caregiving and what will happen to your family member if something happens to you.
Anger or resentment –You may feel angry or resentful toward the person you’re caring for, even though you know it’s irrational. Or you might be angry at the world in general, or resentful of other friends or family members who don’t have your responsibilities.
Guilt – You may feel guilty for not doing more, being a "better" caregiver, having more patience, accepting your situation with more equanimity, or in the case of long-distance caregiving, not being available more often.
Grief –There are many losses that can come with care giving (the healthy future you envisioned with your spouse or child; the goals and dreams you’ve had to set aside). If the person you’re caring for is terminally ill, you’re also dealing with that grief.
Emotional needs of family caregivers:
1. Take time to relax daily and learn how to regulate yourself and de-stress when you start to feel overwhelmed. As explained above, one way to do that is by really connecting with the person you’re caring for. If that isn’t possible, employ your senses to effectively relieve stress in the moment and return yourself to a balanced state.
2. Talk with someone to make sense of your situation and your feelings. There’s no better way of relieving stress than spending time face-to-face with someone who cares about you.
3. Keep a journal. Some people find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings to help them see things more clearly.
4. Feed your spirit. Pray, meditate, or do another activity that makes you feel part of something greater. Try to find meaning in both your life and in your role as a caregiver.
5. Watch out for signs of depression, anxiety, or burnout and get professional help if needed.
Social and recreational needs of family caregivers:
1. Stay social. Don't let yourself become isolated.
2. Do things you enjoy. Laughter and joy can help keep you going when you face trials, stress, and pain.
3. Maintain balance in your life. Don’t give up activities that are important to you, such as your work or your hobbies.
4. Give yourself a break. Take regular breaks from caregiving, and give yourself an extended break at least once a week.
5. Find a community. Join or re-establish your connection to a social club or civic organization.
Physical needs of family caregivers: Exercise regularly.
1. Eat right. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress and get through busy days. Keep your energy up and your mind clear by eating nutritious meals at regular times throughout the day.
2. Avoid alcohol and drugs. It can be tempting to turn to substances for escape when life feels overwhelming, but they can easily compromise the quality of your caregiving.
3. Get enough sleep. Aim for an average of eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. Otherwise, your energy level, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.
4. Keep up with your own health care. Go to the doctor, and keep up with your own prescriptions or medical therapy. As a caregiver, you need to stay as strong and healthy as possible.
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