Are You Struggling, Emotionally & Physically, While Caring For an Aging Parent, Loved One or Friend?

Are you a family caregiver helping a loved one age? As you stretch yourself thin juggling numerous responsibilities, including daily activities, financial management, care decisions, residential placement, legal issues and more, are you left with feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety? Perhaps you are feeling angry or frustrated about putting your life on hold to care for someone else.

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As an in home caregiver, do you find watching your loved one’s health decline creates a sense of sadness and grief? Perhaps thoughts about the quality of care you are able to provide bring about feelings of guilt. Or, maybe you dedicate all your free time to help, which leaves you feeling isolated and lonely. Do you resent spending so much time on something you did not anticipate or prepare for?

Do you often suppress how you really feel because the truth is scary? You likely love the person you’re caring for but also worry that your space for love is shrinking. Perhaps you avoid tough conversations and decisions to maintain peace, but this only leads to hopeless thoughts about the possibility of change and feeling out of control, with no outlets for sustainable relief.

Have you noticed your stress symptoms manifesting physically through digestive problems, shoulder or back pain, high blood pressure or heart palpitations, weight fluctuation, illness, sleep disturbance and exhaustion? Have you taken time off work to care for your loved one? Have you devoted all your resources—emotional, physical and financial—toward them, and wish someone could see you’re struggling too?

Although being a family caregiver can be an enriching, rewarding and meaningful experience, it can also be all-consuming, isolating and frustrating. Everything from your work performance to your ability to feel balanced and secure may be impacted. Deep down, you know things cannot continue this way, but you don’t know how to move forward either.

You Are Not Alone

Even though you might spend all of your time with your family member, caregiving can be a deeply lonely experience. Just know that you are not alone. You may even be surprised to learn how common your situation really is.

  • According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care in the last 12 months.

  • According to the Alzheimer's Association, unpaid family caregivers represented 17 billion hours of work in 2014. 90 percent of people with Alzheimer's do not receive their care from paid care partners.

  • 40 percent of Caregivers suffer from depression, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

  • According to the PRW Research Center, 71 percent of caregivers are between the ages of 40-59. Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s who are caring for an aging parent are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older).

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Family caregivers often feel mentally and emotionally drained. Why? Because offering round-the-clock care is not an instinctual or inherent process. Not only that, but caregivers often feel like they have to take everything on—without help—for financial or emotional reasons. This creates a recipe for complete depletion.

The truth is you were never taught how to do this work or deal with the emotions it evokes, so it makes sense you’re struggling and looking for somewhere to turn. If some, all or any combination of the experiences described above resonate with you, it’s completely expected, understandable and normal. 

The National Institute of Mental Health actually suggests that care partners find someone they can vent to and truly confide in. Studies find that it helps defend against feelings of isolation, powerlessness and overwhelm. It can also help you better manage stress and reclaim life as your own.

Caregiver Support Counseling Can Help You Manage, Balance And Regain Your Life

Caregiver counseling provides a warm, safe, confidential, nonjudgmental space for you to relieve stress, anger and fear, and acquire tools to better manage those feelings. Here, you have time that is completely dedicated to you, with room for you to express and process your innermost thoughts and emotions. When you’re feeling more balanced and whole, you can feel better equipped to serve yourself and your loved ones.

I take a holistic, strength-based, person-centered approach to counseling. Together, we can identify and utilize your gifts and resources and design an individualized treatment plan based solely on your wants and needs.

I actually prefer the term “care partner” to “caregiver” because like any relationship, both parties give and receive. As a therapist, I partner with you through this care journey, to identify and prioritize goals that matter to you. There’s no promise the journey will be fantastic—the work you’ve taken on is undeniably difficult. But, I’m here to help.

I’m a seasoned professional, and you’ll find I bring my real self to therapy. I use real world experience, deep empathy and even a bit of humor to guide clients through the grief, pain and stress of caregiving. I am certified in behavioral health in aging, so you can feel confident in my knowledge of the most pressing issues of aging and age-related illnesses. I’m dedicated and passionate about providing caregiver support, guidance and education to this specific population.

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With the guidance of a licensed clinical social worker, you can come to understand the nature of your thoughts, emotions and strengths, and develop stronger problem-solving skills. We may practice anything from mindfulness for reducing caregiver stress, to communication techniques to manage family challenges, to setting appropriate boundaries, to navigating the care decisions you’re faced with. We’ll also work on developing your own self-compassion and self-care. 

With help and support, it’s possible to not only survive caregiving, but discover how it can become a rewarding experience. It’s possible to relieve stress and expand the relationship with the person you’re caring for. Counseling for caregiving can provide you with the insight and skills needed to deepen or even repair your meaningful relationships, including the one you have with yourself.

You may still have questions or concerns about caregiver support counseling…  

I don’t have time for counseling.

As a care partner, your day may start early in the morning and end late at night, with little to no reset in between. However, if you neglect to take care of your own needs, you might feel completely depleted, both emotionally and physically. You may even feel hopeless.

When you allot just an hour a week to yourself, you can notice your energy increasing, task management becoming easier and a changing perspective that looks more hopeful. You might just be amazed how much better you feel.

I’m supporting my parent, as well as my own kids. How could I justify spending money on counseling?

First, you deserve the caregiver support. If you’re raising or supporting your kids and caring for an elderly parent, counseling can be incredibly beneficial. With some guidance, you can learn to manage the extremely tricky balance of meeting the needs of all who count on you, without losing yourself along the way.

Second, the cost of not receiving care may be higher than you think.  If you’re persistently stressed, your chances of illness and burn out are far greater. Your performance in caregiving, in your career and in your relationships, all may suffer. Be proactive. Ask for the caregiver support you deserve.

Shouldn’t I be able to handle this on my own?

If you’re attempting caregiving alone, it’s common to feel chronically isolated, overwhelmed and stressed. Reaching out for caregiver support is not a sign of failure but signs of wisdom, compassion and strength. You want to be the best for your loved one and for yourself.  You don’t have to go through this alone.

Help Is Available

If you’re ready to become partners in care with someone who wants to aid your care journey, please call 303-618-7595 or contact me here for a free 30-minute consultation.

I have known Jim for over a decade and have found him to be an amazingly present and caring human being. As more of us find ourselves caring for older parents and need support, Jim will be an incredible resource to our community.

— Marco Lam, L.Ac. Director Mandala Integrative Medicine Clinic
 

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