Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Recognizing emotional responses

Being a caregiver can sometimes feel like being on an emotional roller coaster. There are many conflicting emotions that often come to the surface. Sometimes it is hard to deal with these feelings. Remember that it is natural and normal for caregivers to have many different kinds of emotions. Some of the normal feelings for caregivers include:

  • Helplessness and hopelessness
  • Yearning
  • Worry
  • Guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Relief
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Edginess and irritability
  • Sadness and sorrow
  • Anger and resentment

Sometimes you may feel resentful and angry with your loved one. You may feel unhappy because your life has been interrupted, and you may be frustrated because the same issues come up over and over again and you don’t know how to deal with them. You may be upset with yourself that you find it difficult to make decisions. There are no easy answers. You may feel trapped in a situation you can’t control. Most of these feelings are hard to handle because they also make you feel guilty and you think you should be managing better.

Sometimes these feelings can interfere with your relationships with your spouse, your siblings, your friends or your children. Some suggestions for managing your feelings include:

  • Read about caregiving and the challenges involved.
  • Write. Use a journal to express your thoughts, feelings and concerns.
  • Talk with people that you trust and who are able to really listen to you.
  • Ask yourself ―What are your strong feelings about? What are they telling you? What is the purpose of these feelings?
  • Ask yourself ―What old patterns or messages am I repeating?
  • Distinguish between what you can do something about and what you can’t do anything about.
  • Practice ―thought stopping‖ exercises for negative and destructive thinking patterns.
  • Join with others who are facing some of the same challenges for mutual support.
  • Remember that looking after your needs is a necessity and a responsibility, not a luxury.