Text Box:     Many of us will face over the course of a lifetime the responsibility of caring for a family member that is stricken with a debilitating illness or disability. Sometimes that relative is a child and as parents we carry the burden of care. Other times it is a sibling or parent and we as the relative again feel the responsibility to care for those who have cared for us. However, what are the effects of this constant care and focus. The one receiving the care has a valuable advocate and strength, but all too often the one who cares for is disabling themselves that may directly impact the health of the recipient or even worse the long term well being of the giver.

   Being the primary caregiver carries many rewards and satisfactions that can never be measured or described. We feel a sense of accomplishment when the one we love has a minor success or we inquire after studious research about a technique or procedure. But the success and accomplishment felt may be short lived as our once happy and interactive life becomes a single focus and all of the joys we once felt disappear. We convince our self that vigilance and the pursuit of other things associated with the illness or disability we lead to a better quality of life of wellness for our loved one. Standing guard over the person to protect them and be the voice that they may not have will better enable the loved one to be comfortable. We then develop an attitude that we are alone in this and we are the only one that can care for the person. We become an island. A stand alone individual that suffers in the illness and grieves that our loved one or our feelings and concerns are being unheard or ignored. We suffer as much or more than the one being cared for. 

   Our suffering is distributed to the ones around us. Irritability, lack of social interaction and transference of our fears concerns and anxieties onto the person we are so desperately trying to help. For the adult, they may become guilt ridden that their illness has become a burden and healing and focus on becoming well diminishes to a state of surrender. To the child with a disability, the anxiety is felt and they become unable to soothe themselves which in turn leads to further problems that they may encounter such as behavioral or more emotional issues in school, home or play. So how do we let go? Even momentarily to re-energize our self in order to be the best advocate and caregiver we can.

   Recognition that we are only one person and then asking for help is the first step. Even if we are the only one who physically can care for another, we can take a step back and care for our self. Begin by taking an afternoon off from the duties of care giving to relax. Activities as simple as brisk walk in the park will reduce the stress. Spending a quiet time with a book or taking a while to engage in things that we used to enjoy. Further, have another person that you can share your joys, frustrations and hurts with. This person can be a professional, a friend, a pastor, but it has to be someone who you can trust totally. This will allow you to be open and vulnerable enabling you to complete flood the emotions without fear of shame or embarrassment. Outlets such as this will allow you to vent your deepest feelings and be validated for your efforts. Too, it may allow you to look at things more objectively and take your role in a different direction.

  As the caregiver you have taken on and are responsible for the care and well being of another human being. An extremely daunting task to say the least. But without proper self care and relief, your long term health may suffer and the well intentioned dedication and focus may turn into anger, seclusion and fear as well as being passed on to the one we care for. Take time for you! Seek and asked for help! If you are not healthy, how can you care for the one that so many times is desperate for help?
Text Box: Care for the Caregiver

February      2010

Issue 15

Carolina Center for Counseling

& Behavioral Interventions, LLC

Contact Information

304 A North East Main Street

  Simpsonville, SC 29681    


Phone: 864 - 963 - 4028

Fax: 877-201-4878


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