On November 9, 2023, Catherine Pearson’s article entitled The Quiet Rage of Caregivers was published in the New York Times. This timely article shared the stories of several families facing anger and rage over the many losses associated with caring for an aging loved one. Being a caregiver is an act of love and dedication, but it’s not without its emotional toll. Caregivers often find themselves grappling with a complex mix of emotions, from anger and frustration to deep sadness and a sense of loss. These feelings are normal and understandable, given the challenging circumstances caregivers face daily.
Anger and Frustration
Caregivers often feel angry for many reasons. They might feel the load is too heavy, their relationship with the person they care for has changed, or they’re upset with a healthcare system that is confusing and frustrating to navigate. This anger can be aimed at the person they’re caring for, other family members, doctors, or themselves. It’s important for caregivers to realize it’s okay to feel this way and to find good ways to deal with their anger, like joining support groups, talking to a counselor, or just taking some time for themselves.
Sadness and Grief
Along with anger, caregivers often feel deep sadness and grief. These feelings may come from seeing a loved one’s health get worse or missing the way things used to be. This is especially true for those caring for someone with illnesses like Alzheimer’s, where the person they knew is fading away. It’s important to accept these feelings of sadness and grief. Getting support from friends, family, or counselors can also be helpful.
Isolation and Loneliness
Many caregivers also deal with feeling lonely and isolated. Because caregiving takes a lot of time, they often don’t have much chance to socialize or do things for themselves. This can make them feel cut off from others, which can make them feel sadder and more frustrated. Finding a support network, either online or face-to-face, can really help with these feelings.
Guilt and Self-Doubt
Guilt is another common emotion for caregivers. They may feel bad for being angry or frustrated, for any mistakes, or for not doing enough. This guilt can be overwhelming and may lead to doubting their own caregiving skills. It’s important for caregivers to know they’re doing a tough job and to be kind and understanding to themselves.
Caregivers should take care of themselves to handle these tough emotions. This means taking regular breaks, getting emotional support, and doing things they like. Joining caregiver support groups, either in real life or online, can help them feel connected and understood. Also, talking to a therapist can be a good way to work through these difficult feelings.
The emotional journey of caregiving is fraught with challenges, but understanding and addressing these emotions is a critical step towards maintaining both the well-being of the caregiver and the quality of care they provide. Acknowledging these feelings as normal and seeking support can make a significant difference in the lives of both caregivers and those they care for.
Our work as Aging Life Care Managers® includes looking at the situation with you to help you understand options and make decisions. With a clear plan in place, frustration is greatly reduced. Reach out to discuss how we can help.