There are roughly 7 million carers in the UK, which equates to around 1 person in every 10 people. Statistics also show that 3 in 10 people will become carers at some point in their lives.
Sometimes we can become caregivers and provide home care services because of choice, sometimes it is because of a sudden trauma, and sometimes we become caregivers and provide live-in care because we have to. Regardless of why you have become a carer, it is certain that you have experienced many different emotions during your time in this position as there are definitely challenges when looking after elderly parents at home. Some emotions are there from the very beginning, some begin to surface later down the line.
Through these challenging times, it is so important that you recognise these emotions you are experiencing, and how they are affecting you.
You matter too, and your feelings matter too. Your emotions are valid, and important.
Dealing With Emotions That Occur As A Carer
Most carers, providing home care services have both a unique set of emotions and feelings they experience, and emotions in common with other carers. Guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, resentment, bitterness and sorrow are all common emotions experienced by carers. All emotions are normal, and how you experience those emotions is individual to you.
Many carers bury their feelings inside, for fear of being judged by others, and also for fear of admitting these emotions, perhaps because they are ashamed to feel them. The problem is, if all the emotions aren't dealt with, they will keep cropping up and they might manifest themselves in other ways. Depression, lack of sleep, a lowered immune system, comfort eating or lack of eating, leaning on alcohol or drugs to cope - the list is endless. Once you admit that those feelings are there, you will then be able to deal with them, ensuring you can be happier and healthier for yourself, and for your loved one.
The First Step To Dealing With Your Emotions
The very first step to dealing with your emotions is recognising them. It may be that you need some time to yourself, away from your in home care responsibilities, to allow yourself to think about how you feel. It might be that you're well aware of your feelings, and are struggling to keep them from affecting you every single day. Either way, recognising them and perhaps writing them down is a really good idea, so you know exactly what you're having to cope with emotionally.
Getting The Help You Deserve
There are many healthy ways to deal with the emotional toll of caring for a loved one. For some people, the following activities done regularly could well be enough to get the emotions out and resolve them:
- A coffee and a chat with a loved one
- Exercise and meditation
- Regular counsellor sessions
For some carers, more support and assistance is needed. Age UK have an excellent programme where they can help find you support in your area. Similarly, Carers UK have plenty of general support as well as more specific connections to local support. The Live in Care Hub is another excellent resource to help you.
Know that as a carer, you deserve support, and that your emotions are valid. If you need help, reach out to a friend, a family member, your GP, or to any of the organisations mentioned above. The sooner you are able to deal with the emotions you are experiencing, the happier you will feel, and the more able to care for your loved one you will be.