I don’t want to accept the changes I see in my loved one. She’s ways been very capable and now she’s losing some of her abilities. I can’t believe this is happening. If we both stand tough, maybe we can hold it off.

We’ve gotten through a lot of things by standing tough, and I know our refusal to give in to this condition will help us now. But our determination to keep trouble at bay doesn’t change the fact that she has health problems that are affecting her life and mine. I can’t deny that. I wish she didn’t have to go through this. It’s hard to face. But it’s better if I don’t try to collude with her and pretend it’s not happening. Part of being tough is facing reality and taking on what we need to take on. I’d better work with her to learn all we can about her condition and how to deal with it.

Toughness is not blindness.

Source: Daily Comforts for Caregivers by Pat Samples (1999)


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Caregivers with Depression and Anxiety

Are you caring for a family member who has a chronic illness? Are you perhaps even part of the so-called “Sandwich Generation”—taking care of your children and your aging parents? Be honest: are you struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues because of your caregiver role?

Caregiving can take a toll on the caregiver because of the demands a chronic illness can create. Regardless of whom you’re caring for, there’s no doubt you feel the pressure of these demands. Chronic illness is especially challenging because of daily stresses such as medication management, doctor appointments, therapies, etc., not to mention the unpredictability of symptoms. These burdens can cause caregivers to feel anxious, depressed, resentful, or even angry, all of which are normal reactions.

Caregiving can be time consuming, physically challenging, and emotionally draining. Giving of one’s time and energy can be exhausting, and many caregivers find themselves experiencing burnout. Signs of burnout, much like signs of depression, can include irritability, changes in sleep patterns, sadness or hopelessness, weight gain or loss, and withdrawal from others.

Research shows that 40% to 70% of caregivers experience anxiety and/or depression. Let’s hit that home: 10% to 12% of people in the United States report depression at any given time, so it’s significant that nearly half of caregivers report depression or anxiety. It shows just how much of a toll caregiving can take.

Is this your experience as a caregiver? How do you combat depression, anxiety, and other issues? Here are six caregiver “survival” tips:

  1. Take care of yourself first: You can’t help anyone if you’re sick, tired, or drained. You can’t pour from an empty cup! Taking time to care for yourself is of the utmost importance.
  2. Ask for help: Caregiving does not have to be just your responsibility. In fact, the more you do, the more others expect you to do. Getting support to share the responsibilities can help you avoid caregiver burnout.
  3. Be realistic: The more you know about the diagnosis, treatments, and prognosis, the more empowered you will feel. Ask your doctor questions and search the web on reputable medical websites.
  4. Access respite care: Respite care is a service that allows caretakers to have a break. The break can be from a few hours to a few days. You can also ask another family member or a friend to give you some time off.
  5. Find emotional support: Having someone to share your feelings with can help ease the burden of caregiving. You don’t have to feel alone and helpless. Find a trusted and compassionate person who allows you to talk without giving advice or judging the situation.
  6. Seek therapy: If you’re still struggling, find a therapist who is knowledgeable about chronic illness. Working with a therapist can help you learn to better cope with caregiver challenges.

There is no doubt caregiving for a family member with chronic illness can have adverse effects on the caregiver, but there are ways to combat issues such as anxiety and depression. Most importantly, caring for yourself will allow you to have the resources to continue caregiving.


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Are You A Caregiver?

Self-Identification as a caregiver is an essential first step towards overcoming the overwhelming responsibilities your role entail.s Are you caring for a loved one (child or adult) who belongs to one of the categories below:

  • People with disabilities
  • People with mental illness
  • People who are chronically ill (e.g., diabetes, renal failure)
  • Older persons who have difficulty coping with daily living
  • People who are terminally ill or suffering from life limiting illnesses

If your answer is “yes” to any of the above, that makes you a caregiver.

Caregiving involves time, commitment and sacrifice. Wile the role as a caregiver seems intimidating you are not alone and there is always help and support available to walk you through the journey.

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Welcome to Caregiving HelpGuide

When families are subjected to continuous and never-ending stress, you may find your life coping skills no longer effective. The ambiguous loss you may be experiencing and the prolonged stress you feel may lead to burnout ~ a depletion of personal resources to the point of loss of energy to fulfill necessary daily functions. When you find yourself excessively focused on others’ needs, deficits and problems, it is only normal to feel drained, worn out, and exhausted. Some may refer to this as compassion fatigue. One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value (John Rohn). Our journey of caregiving can be rewarding and exhausting with ambiguous consequences. You can love and care for others while nurturing yourself.

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