The emotional challenges of caring for an ageing parent
Caring for an older loved one can be challenging both physically and emotionally. Many family carers feel conflicted about their role. While you may want to provide the best care for your loved one, it is normal to worry about the practical, financial and emotional challenges of caring for an older parent.
You should know that whatever feelings you might be facing are perfectly normal. Whether you have been caring for an older parent for a while or you have been recently thrust into the role, it is common to feel strong emotions such as anxiety, loneliness or frustration.
Here we discuss some of the most common emotional challenges of caring for an older loved one. We’ve also included some tips and guidance on how you can cope with these emotions and challenges whilst looking after your own well-being.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with your carer duties, know that our expert live-in care and respite care services are available to help. With our high-quality care at home, your loved one can receive the dedicated care they need whilst you enjoy a well-earned break.
Emotional challenges you may experience
Although caring for an older parent, family member or friend can be incredibly rewarding, it is common for caregivers to face certain emotional challenges. Caring for someone is an immense responsibility that may leave the carer feeling overwhelmed by the commitment.
These are some of the most common emotional challenges a carer may experience.
It is common for carers to feel lonely or isolated. Carers may feel as if they have no one to talk to that truly understands the situation. They may also find that they have less time to socialise or pursue their own hobbies and interests leading to further feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Many carers feel constant anxiety over the person they care for. They may worry about the health of their loved one or if they are providing appropriate care. If these feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time, it can become quite overwhelming. Anxiety can emerge as a short fuse, frustration or even as physical symptoms like sleep disturbances or heart palpitations.
Irritability and frustration
When caring for a loved one, changes in their health or behaviour may cause feelings of frustration for you, particularly if your loved one is living with a complex condition like dementia. A carer may feel grief, frustration or anger and these emotions can lead to irritability, which is perfectly normal to feel
Carers are at an increased risk for depression. Seeing the health of a loved one decline or watching as they are not able to do the things they once did can feel sad and overwhelming. It is normal to deal with feelings of grief as a carer over changes occurring in a loved one or in your relationship with them.
Guilt while caring for a loved one comes in many forms. A carer may experience guilt over feeling like they could be doing more for their loved one or they may feel guilty over emotions such as anger or resentment. Frustration often leads us to misdirect emotions towards our loved ones and this could also lead to increased feelings of guilt. A carer may even feel guilty if they spend time on themselves and their own needs.
While we often start to care for someone out of love, the challenges of caregiving may take their toll and lead to resentment. It is not uncommon for a carer to feel like they have given up parts of their life or their freedom to care for a loved one.
At times, a carer may feel like the person they care for doesn’t fully realise all that they do for them. A carer may also feel resentment towards the situation if they have siblings or other family members they feel are not doing their share. Feeling like you have to do it all, and do it all by yourself, often leads to feelings of anger and resentment.
It may seem that by not hiring a professional carer you will save financially, but this is not always the case. A caregiver may have to pay for extra care, medical or travel costs. This can put a strain on their financial resources and lead to anxiety, frustration and financial pressure.
Coping with emotional challenges of caregiving
If you are a caregiver for a loved one, it is important that you look after your own well-being. Care work can wear on even the most resilient of people. By looking after yourself, you will in turn be able to provide the best care for your loved ones.
Here are some tips for coping with the challenges of caring for older loved ones:
Accept help: Look to your support network including siblings and other family members and ask them for support. It may be beneficial to create a list of tasks or duties that need to be completed and allow family members to choose for themselves what they would like to help with.
Schedule respite care: While it may be hard to imagine someone else caring for your loved one, taking regular breaks is one of the best things you can do to look after your own well-being. By pre-scheduling respite care, you can enjoy regular breaks from your carer duties to relax and recharge.
Focus on what you are able to provide: Many carers feel guilty that they are not providing ‘enough’ for the people they look after. It is important to understand that no one is perfect as a carer. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
Set realistic goals: It is important to know your limits as a carer and prioritise your own sleep and self-care routines. Making a list of your duties as a carer and then turning them into a daily schedule can help you set realistic goals.
Request a carer’s assessment: You may be entitled to help from your local council to cover some of the costs of providing care. You will need to request a carer’s assessment from your council. It is free and anyone over 18 can ask for one.
Get connected: Find out about carer resources available in your own community. This can include financial support, support groups, meal deliveries or community classes. Carers UK has a list of resources for carers that can help you get started.
Look after your own physical and emotional health: Many carers become so focused on their loved ones that they do no realise their own well-being is suffering. Try and set healthy goals for yourself such as prioritising sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise.
How expert live-in care can help
If you are caring for an older parent, relative or friend, you do not have to do so alone. Caring for a loved one that requires ongoing day-to-day support can be physically and emotionally challenging. If you need immediate, practical help, we offer expert live-in care and respite care services that will provide your loved one with the one-to-one care they need while you take a break to recharge your batteries.
Respite care at home is a short and flexible arrangement that allows for a person to be cared for in the comfort and familiarity of their own home by a professional carer. This gives a family carer the opportunity to take a break from their usual care duties to relax and recharge.
There are two ways respite care can be delivered:
Live-in care where a carer lives in your home full time and offers support and companionship throughout the day or occasionally at night.
Visiting care, where a carer will support you or a loved one for a few hours through the day or week to give you or your current carer a break.
We have been providing high-quality, award-winning care across England and Scotland for over 10 years. Our dedicated service enables people to keep living independently at home while still receiving the care and support they need. Our care is designed to not only improve our clients happiness and quality of life, but to also deliver improved health outcomes.