Caring for the Caregiver

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Caregiving is complex. Caregiving can be very stressful. Just as the needs of the person for whom care is being provided may differ from day to day, the caregiving experience may also differ. Caregivers may sometimes spend so much time and energy on the other person that they can let their own needs fall to the wayside.

You may be a caregiver. You may be a spouse, son, daughter or other relative. You may be young or old. You may be providing care out of love or a sense of obligation. More often than not, you feel both love and obligation. You may find caregiving to be satisfying and rewarding, or you may find it to be frustrating.

When the caregiving load is heavy, you might be frightened by feelings, such as rage, anger at the elder for being a burden or irritation with them for needing care. These feelings can give rise to guilt: we feel there must be something wrong with us if we have such negative feelings. However, these feelings are completely normal and acceptable. They do not mean that you don’t love the person or that you are bad or unworthy. They show you are normal and human. Feelings of anger, guilt and frustration can actually help you determine your next steps.

Burke County Cooperative Extension is a partner in the community to provide support for caregivers. An example is the Caregiver Lunch & Learn series in September at Calvary Lutheran Church. Enjoy a free lunch while learning tips for a successful caregiving journey. The Lunch and Learn series is from 11:00 until 12 Noon on Thursdays—September 8th, 15th, and 22nd. Registration by caregivers is needed by the Monday before each event by calling (828) 485-4256. Companionship will be available on-site for care recipients by a Certified Nursing Assistant and requires a reservation by calling Debbie Little at Handi-Care, Inc. at (828) 437-8429 by Tuesday before each event. On September 8th, Cooperative Extension will offer “The 10 Commandments of Caregiving” during the lunch and learn event. A community partner, Nicole Rieger-Thomas of the Alzheimer’s Association will offer “Mom or Dad is not O.K. Now What?”

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences