At some point in time, we find ourselves taking care of our loved ones, whether that be a child, elderly parent, or an individual with an illness. Whether it happens suddenly and unexpectedly or gradually, we become primary caregivers.
A primary caregiver is an individual responsible for providing financial and logistic care to their loved ones on a day-to-day basis most of the time. The primary caregiver could be a spouse, children, or any other family member.
In India, we the family members provide care to our loved ones and it can be rewarding while caring for them but at the same time it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time and it impacts the caregiver’s wellbeing. Wondering how to know, if you have been impacted by caregiving? You would find it helpful if you can recognize the symptoms of distress in yourself, you can take immediate action to improve your wellbeing.
Whether you become a caregiver gradually or all of sudden due to a crisis, or whether you are a caregiver willingly or by default, many emotions surface when you take on the job of caregiving. Many feelings come up when you are caring for someone day in and day out. Feelings of ambivalence, anger, persistent sadness, anxiety, boredom, irritability, embarrassment, fear, and grief, are common that you can experience being the primary caregiver.
You can experience feelings of fatigue, tiredness, weak immune system, hypertension, obesity, bodily pain, heart disease, and other significant physiological changes. These physiological changes are often impacted by the behavioural changes of the care recipient.
If you don’t deal with the changes experienced by you due to caregiving, then it will impact your mental wellbeing. They will keep tugging at you until you stop and acknowledge them. Not paying attention to your feelings may lead to poor sleep, illness, trouble coping, stress eating, substance abuse, etc., and can hinder your ability to provide care, leading to higher health care costs and affecting the quality of life of both you and your loved one in need of care. When you admit to your feelings, you can then find productive ways to express them and deal with them, so that you and the care receiver can cope better in the future.
It is essential for you to take care of yourself as a caregiver whilst taking care of your loved one, as only when we first help ourselves we can effectively help our loved one. To limit the challenges and ease frustration, here are a few tips that can help you with the caregiving journey: