The Emotional Impact Caregiving Can Have on a Family

In a previous post, we talked about how you can identify, prevent, and reduce caregiver stress. Caregiving can weigh heavily on your emotions, physical well-being, and finances. Unfortunately, the impact does not just rest on your shoulders, but impacts the entire family. While every family and situation is different, through our research we identified three core categories that capture the different emotional challenges a family may experience (source). Below is a breakdown of each category with actionable suggestions.

3 Ways Caregiving Can Impact the Family

Worry, fear, and stress of the disease, ailment, and/or chronic condition of a loved one.

Under certain circumstances, such as cancer or dementia, the unpredictability, misunderstanding, difficult diagnosis, and physical impact on the care recipient can evoke emotions in all family members. These emotions can include fear, sadness, grief, anger, hope, etc. The stress caused by this situation usually bleeds into other areas of one’s life, creating secondary stress at work and in family relationships (source). This kind of stress impacts inter-family relationships causing fights, conflict, and miscommunications. So how can this be avoided?

To create a positive and healthy environment there are a few proposed methods to inoculate and alleviate the current emotional stress that the family is experiencing including:

  • Host a family assessment/meeting on what is needed in order to care for your loved one
  • Recognize the hard work of each family members’ role
  • Openly discuss your emotions without judgment or reaction. Allow people to be heard.
  • Use humor in your day-to-day conversations to lighten the load

Helping the care recipient deal with the emotional impact of situation.

Many caregivers feel unprepared because they are thrust unexpectedly into the world and role of caregiving. Learning how to comfort a loved one during a very difficult time and on a subject that is new can be emotionally taxing. Such difficulty can permeate among the family, especially if there is little honesty and infrequent group discussions.

To alleviate this problem, engage your family and learn about your loved one’s condition together. Being a cohesive unit, leaning on each, and learning to cope together will make you closer and better able to support each other.

Disruptions to family routine, daily living, and dealing with bereavement.

Needing to take time off work, cancel family events, or having to spend a majority of your personal time caring for your loved one can be a disruption to your normal life. That disruption can create a strong sense of resentment directed towards the care recipient, or individual family members depending on their involvement and proximity.

It may sound simple, but to help prevent this from occurring you need to set a specific schedule for yourself (and family) and follow it. Constantly having day-to-day chaos will have its impact on you, so having a schedule that includes ‘me time’ will certainly reduce stress.

Many caregivers cope successfully with caregiving and actually experience an improvement in their health/well-being (source). For many others, however, that is not the case. Being mentally prepared for what may come is necessary. Be open with your family, take action and engage in a dialogue that includes the three items discussed above.

Want to make it easier to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate your loved one’s care? Check out the Caring Village dashboard and mobile app and find out how we’re making caregiving easier, safer, and less stressful. Visit Caringvillage.com to learn more!


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