The Full Emotional, Mental, and Physical Impact of Caregiving

When discussing caregiving, it’s easy to separate the different ways caregiving impacts caregivers. The reality is that it impacts all aspects of one’s life. Whether it’s a sudden leap or a gradual transition into caregiving, at some point, any caregiver will tell you that their caregiving duties have affected their life on every level. We’ve written separately about the different impacts of caregiving, so we thought it would be a good idea to combine all of these into one post because that is how a caregiver experiences it. Their caregiving duties don’t first affect their physical health, then their mental. It’s all at once and it’s all happening simultaneously. Here are some of the basic ways that caregiving impacts people.

How does caregiving affect individuals physically?

Caregivers are impacted on a physical level for a couple of reasons. First, they are responsible for providing care to their ailing or aging loved one. This can be physically taxing and exhausting. Whether they’re caring for someone who needs help with all activities of daily living or a few, there’s no discounting the amount of exhaustion that comes along with this continuous work. It takes physical strength to help dress someone or to help transport them from a bed to a wheelchair. This round the clock care is simply exhausting.

 Aside from physical exhaustion, caregiving can impact the physical health of the caregiver. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers have higher incidences of several physical illnesses. They have a higher incidence of heart disease, various physical illnesses such as aches and pain, and they have a higher rate of mortality. Furthermore, many caregivers will put their loved one’s care before their own. This can leave many illnesses untreated and also render a lot of preventative care useless.

How does caregiving affect individuals mentally?

Caregiving is mentally draining. It’s difficult to manage somebody else’s care. Caregivers are constantly managing the schedule of their ailing or aging loved ones, and they have to be cognizant of an incredible amount of information at once. They need to remember physician appointments, medication interactions, individual diagnoses, prescription refills, budgets, dietary restrictions and more.

Additionally, they also experience a higher rate of mental illness. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, suffer from anxiety, and experience other mental illnesses. Furthermore, because the caregivers are so focused on their ailing or aging loved one, many of these symptoms remain untreated. This isn’t limited to the period that they provide care, and it can last after the caregiver has relinquished their caregiver duties.

What are the emotional impacts of caregiving?

Caregivers experience a wide range of emotions. Caregivers do the most amazing work and provide incredible unparalleled care for their ailing or aging loved ones, but it is incredibly difficult to watch the health of an ailing or aging loved one gradually fail. This can cause incredible amounts of sadness in individuals, as well as some feelings of helplessness, frustration and anger. The other major emotion involved in caregiving is guilt. Caregivers will blame themselves for wanting time off, and will beat themselves up for leaving the side of their ailing or aging loved one.

Caregivers need more support – from society and from their employers. It’s an incredibly difficult task to undertake, and these brave individuals are impacted in every possible way. If you know any caregivers, offer them a helping hand or a friend to talk to.

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