Understanding Stress and Sources of Help
It is important to realize that although illness and its symptoms affect the patient, illness has an affect on the entire family. Caring for loved ones at home can be very rewarding, however it is physically and emotionally demanding for all family members.
During the illness, the patient may act in an angry way towards caregivers. This can cause hurt or angry feelings in caregivers. In most cases, the patient's behavior actually means "why did this have to happen to me?" This behavior is most often directed at persons who will continue to love and care for them in spite of these bad moods.
When the patient does act out in this way, it is a good idea to discuss your feelings about this behavior. It is common for the patient to be unaware of the change in behavior. Caregivers and patients are encouraged to share their fears and feelings with members of the hospice / home care team (nurses, social workers, pastoral care personnel). This team is prepared to help the entire family cope with changes during the illness.
The physical demands of caregiving are often strenuous. It is important that the family caregiver take time away from the responsibilities of caring for the patient's needs. It is important for the caregiver to have rest and relief outside of the home in order to maintain physical and emotional health. It is important to recruit other family members, friends, and the volunteers associated with the home care agency, to provide a break for the family caregiver.
Anxiety is a common reaction and normal response to new and stressful situations.
Feelings that may indicate anxiety include:
Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
Call the nurse or social worker if any of the following symptoms last for several days:
Keys to controlling anxiety:
Family caregivers need to take care of their own needs for rest, food, enjoyment, and relaxation on a daily basis in order to remain physically and emotionally effective.
Be realistic about what you expect of yourself as a family caregiver. Don't expect to be perfect. If there are some parts of caregiving that are especially difficult for you, then ask others for help.
If you are finding that the caregiving demands are more than you can handle, it is important to discuss this with the hospice / home care nurse or social worker who will offer you information about getting help.
Tips for staying physically well: