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Dealing with the Emotional Toll of Caring for an Elderly Relative

When you were young you used to look to your elders for help and advice. So it can be emotionally hard to find yourself in that role caring for an elderly relative. Whether you find yourself plunged in the at the deep end, perhaps because of a fall or a stroke, or gradually taking on more of the burden as a loved one ages it is important that you look after yourself too.

Feeling embarrassed or disgusted?

Ageing isn’t pretty. Many elderly people develop continence issues, have difficulty feeding themselves or lose interest in their appearance. It is perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or even to experience disgust and revulsion when dealing with the results. If you feel cleaning up vomit or changing an adult nappy is a step too far then it is probably time to reconsider your in home care arrangements and get some more help.

Feeling angry and resentful?

You probably didn’t see yourself as a carer and it can be frustrating if you can’t pursue your own life because you have caring responsibilities. Your day-to-day caring duties may be such that you never feel like you have any downtime as you are tired and need to go to bed as soon as your relative is settled.

If you are starting to resent caring, you need to start looking at ways to have a break. Perhaps another family member can visit for an hour or two so you can go to the cinema or hairdressers. Maybe there is a day club that your loved one could attend to give you time to go for a walk to the gym. You can also consider using live in care services to provide you with the opportunity to have a holiday or to ease the daily strain.

Feeling underappreciated?

As people age they can become irritable and start to lose some of their natural social filters. As a family member they may well treat you differently to how they treat others involved in their care and you can quickly start to feel taken for granted and as if nothing you can do is good enough.

It’s important to remind yourself that it’s age, and possibly mental deterioration due to dementia or other health issues, that are causing your relative to act the way they do. Some medications can also exacerbate grumpiness and resistance to change which can lead to it feeling like your relative does nothing but complain.

Your job is incredibly important and sometimes it’s a good idea to give yourself a pat on the back and remind yourself of that fact. Would your loved one be in a home or their home? Would they still be alive and as independent as they are? Find out about meetings for other carers in your local area and spend some time with people in the same position as you are to reassure yourself that you are important.

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