Taking Care of the Caregiver

By: Pamela J. Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

4-25-2013 2-52-51 PMHaving an ill loved one is hard.  Being his/her caregiver is even harder.  When you are the person who is responsible for the day-to-day care of an ill loved one, while also trying to manage the emotional consequences of seeing that loved one ill, while also dealing with the already existing family stresses and dynamics, it is very easy to get burned out and feel that there is nobody there to care for you.

When I work with caregivers, one of the biggest problems I encounter is getting them to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally.  It is SO stressful to be a caregiver, yet so few caregivers change their habits to account for this significant increase in stress.  Caregivers are often so focused on providing care that they neglect their own needs.

One of the most important things a caregiver can do is to recruit help.  No one person should carry the caregiving burden alone.  Friends and family will offer help in a general way, but the caregiver must learn to accept help, assign certain tasks to those helpers, and ask for help when needed.  There are certain online programs designed to do this, including www.lotsahelpinghands.com.  These sites help caregivers organize helpers and send out requests for specific times/tasks/chores to be done.

One of the most-complicating factors for caregivers of terminally ill loved ones is that the end of the stress also means the end of the loved one’s life.  This is an emotionally confusing position in which to live, sometimes for long periods of time.  It is important for caregivers to know that help is available to them both through online support groups and face-to-face counseling or groups.  When caregivers are getting the appropriate support, then their ability to care for their loved ones improves.

We all need help sometimes.  Asking for help when life is at its most stressful is a sign of strength, not weakness.  Reach out, set good limits, and accept the loving kindness of others who want to help you.

4-25-2013 2-43-13 PMBio: Pamela J. Ginsberg, Ph.D. is a licensed Psychologist in Doylestown.  She has been in practice for over 19 years.  She specializes in women’s issues, women’s health, women with cancer, grief and bereavement, relationships, and stress management.  She is on staff at Doylestown Hospital and on the Board of Directors of Gilda’s Club of Delaware Valley.  Dr. Ginsberg has worked with individuals, couples, and corporations to help people take control of their lives, make better life choices, learn good coping skills and decision-making skills, and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Bucks County Women’s Journal

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