It takes determination and strength
to help the sick or elderly in their daily life. Caring is also a job people
prefer to do. Caregiver is a job to be respected. Caregivers can be called upon
to provide a wide variety of assistance with activities of daily living,
including bathing, toileting, dressing, medications, and eating. Almost all
caregivers have to work long hours, and they have to be quite careful at this
Caregivers feel a lot of emotions all of the work-day. Some important
emotions, impatience, fear, guilt, lack of appreciation and loneliness.
Spending all your time caring at someone makes you feel tired. At the end of
the day, they may be too tired to join social activities, this leads to a
worsening of family and social relationships of caregivers which place more
responsibility on caregivers.
Some caregivers blame themselves for
a bad relationship or they think them forgotten. These are reasons to cause a
psychological and physical sickness. Some caregivers always face the feeling of
guilt, for not loving or even liking the person in need of care at times. If
the person in need of care gets hurt or something else happens, there is guilt
about it being your fault that it happened.
Commonly, caregivers don’t share the
feelings with no one. Sharing emotions with others relieve fear. Some people in
need of care, don’t listen to caregivers and they don’t want to do what they
say. Caregivers occasionally have to spend a long time to do a task and this
situation can make caregivers more impatient.
To Manage Your Feelings
Emotional support: Sharing emotions with others
relieves stress and may offer a different perspective on problems. These are
helpful steps to improve the emotional and physical health of caregivers. Talk
to friends or family who give you positive support. A therapist can be a great
Wellness actives : Many caregivers neglect their own emotional,
physical and spiritual needs. Wellness encompasses healthy all-around living.
Some studies suggest eating a balanced diet, getting at least seven hours of
restorative sleep, regular exercise caring for emotional health by way of a
mental health provider. Try to : Get
enough sleep, meditate or yoga.
Stay active and social: Connecting with others in similar situations is powerful, because you
no longer feel isolated and you can learn from others. And keep up with hobbies, community groups, and
activities that bring you joy and meaning.
Accept help: The more help and support you accept, the better it will make you
feel. You do not have to do it all, nor is it healthy to do it all. The
best way to avoid burnout is to accept help. People often want to help; just
Whether you become a caregiver
gradually or all of sudden due to a crisis, or whether you are a caregiver
willingly or by default, many emotions surface when you take on the job of caregiving.
Whatever your situation, it is important to remember that you, too, are
of the perfect caregiver of the elderly
Caring for the elderly comes with a great responsibility. Definitely not everyone can successfully cope with that role. In order to succeed in this job a person should have certain set of characteristics presence of which will allow the workers to be satisfied with their work. In this article I will deal primarily with mental immunity and so-called caregiver stress syndrome, but at the beginning I will also mention other personality traits and characteristics necessary to practice this profession.
First of all, we need to remember that a good
caregiver is a composed and patient person. Both of these features are
extremely important in dealing with dependent people who, because of their age
and disease might feel nervous, lost or be in a bad mood. Another important
feature is the ability to react quickly in crisis situations and resistance to
stress. Putting a brave on things in a the event of sudden deterioration in the
well-being of an elderly person and the ability to provide first aid are
amongst the most important responsibilities of a senior care assistant. Knowledge
about diseases and illnesses affecting the elderly is also very useful. A good
caregiver should be empathic and sensitive to the feelings and needs of the
elderly. It is vital to support, talk and build positive relationships between
the caregiver and the mentee. Important personality traits undoubtedly include
warmth and cordiality, which a person can bestow on their mentee: it’s mainly
about the ability to create a situation where the senior will feel good and
safe. It should also be remembered that the basic principle in the care of the elderly
people is respect for the mentee. Certainly, good physical condition is an
important feature of an elderly person’s caregiver. Everyday activities related
to the care of the dependents require efficiency while performing various types
To sum up, the work of an
elderly person’s guardian is a demanding job, and therefore it should certainly
not be done by random people (whose main motivation is for example to earn
money), but those who have the appropriate predispositions for it.
Mental resistance and work with the elderly and the
so-called caregiver stress syndrome
“Mental resistance is a personality trait
that largely determines how well we deal with challenges, stressors and
pressure, regardless of the circumstances” (Strycharczyk, Clough, 2015).
Even the most resistant people can lose their resistance
after long-term care of a chronically ill person. Performing tasks under
constant stress has certain emotional and social consequences.
This situation can lead to symptoms
that are called the Caregiver Syndrome (or CSS – Caregiver Stress Syndrome).
Caregiver Stress Syndrome is a new
phenomenon in psychology, scientists in the world have only been dealing with
it for 20 years. In Poland, this phenomenon was highlighted a few years ago. So
let’s get to know what caregiver’s stress syndrome is and how to deal with it.
often complain about the lack of gratitude on the part of the elderly.
Paradoxically – by devoting their time and strength to the person looked after,
the elderly often become their greatest enemies, because they constantly
demand, forbid or order something. This situation may lead to symptoms that are
called the Caregiver Stress Syndrome.
Caregiver Syndrome – symptoms
The “Caregiver Syndrome” is characterized by specific symptoms:
• physical (e.g. pain,
• psychosomatic (e.g. problems
with sleep, appetite),
• psychosocial (e.g. feelings
of emptiness, loneliness, isolation).
They can occur in people with responsibility for caring for the sick and
are compounded by chronic fatigue and neglect of their own needs. The
environment – both medical staff who take care of the sick and the immediate
environment (family, neighbours, etc.) – expects the carer to fulfill his
duties perfectly. Everyone accounts for the caregiver, at the same time
forgetting about him and his rights. If the caregiver does not devote himself
completely to his role, he is assessed as uninvolved, not caring for his
mentee. In such circumstances, self-care would be a manifestation of
unacceptable selfishness of the guardian. A danger for the person who deals
with the sick are the symptoms of depression. Symptoms of the guardian’s
syndrome develop slowly, parallel to the deteriorating health of the mentee.
The caregiver often experiences sadness, feelings of emptiness, loses interest
in the current forms of activity. In depression, he can neglect his duties,
posing a threat to the mentee and himself. In very extreme cases, suicidal
thoughts may occur. Especially when the caregiver is a sick person and needs
Chronic stress severely strains our immune system, a caregiver more often
than usually becomes ill with various types of infections. Due to fatigue, the
ability to think and concentrate also deteriorate. A common manifestation of
the Caregiver Syndrome is anger at the mentee, the situation in which the caregiver
finds himself, and reluctance to perform everyday activities. The slightest
failure can then cause irritability and irritation as well as anger that is
difficult to control. It also happens that a person caring for a sick and
elderly person is accompanied by a constant feeling of guilt because of
neglecting their duties, their improper performance or suppressed anger at the
patient. Most symptoms can be greatly exaggerated, that is, they can be felt by
a person who performs his duties correctly and properly. In summary – the main
symptoms of the Guardian’s Syndrome are:
of physical health
According to the report published by the website www.health.com, carers of
the elderly are in the first place in the ranking covering professions that can
contribute most to the appearance of mood disorders. Nearly 11 percent of those
performing this occupation suffer from depression.
How can you deal with the Caregiver Syndrome?
Most caregivers do not seek
professional help because they do not realize that they suffer from a medical
condition. What is happening to them they usually interpret as weakness of their
character or lack of skills. Meanwhile, the significance of the problem is
demonstrated by the results of research carried out at the University of
Pittsburgh by Richard Schulz and Scott Beach, according to which the care of a
chronically ill person increases the risk of death by 63% compared to a group
of peers who do not work as caregivers.
It is important for the caregiver
to watch not only the patient but also himself. If he wants to be good at what
he does, he must take care of himself first. Someone who is exhausted,
irritable, depressed – will not be a good guardian. That is why “healthy
egoism” is needed – that is, above all, taking care of one’s own needs. A
good guardian is a smiling and relaxed guardian. A serious mistake is to take
the posture: “I have to manage, I have to be independent, I will not ask
anyone for help.” With proper support, the role of guardian may become
easier. First you need to take into account informal support, which includes
family, friends, neighbors. They are a good source of help, especially
emergency help, and their presence can improve the patient’s mood. It is a
mistake to isolate and avoid people who would like to help or even listen to the
problems. It is advisable to talk about matters related to the syndrome and to
accept the help offered.
Caregivers should think about support systems at an early stage of their
career. Thanks to regular help focused on the physical and emotional needs of
the caregiver, crisis situations are prevented, which in the context of many
long years of care for the elderly person is crucial for the health and quality
of life of not only the caregiver but also the caregiver’s mentee.
symptoms of the Caregiver’s Syndrome may be controlled by the caregiver
himself, but it is worth remembering that the more serious symptoms of the
disease usually require the help of a psychologist. The caretaker of the
elderly person should remember that apart from working for their mentee, they also
have their own life and must not forget about it during everyday activities.
Our work will be better and more efficient if in everyday life we plan time
to rest, relax, go for a walk, clear our thoughts from the patient’s problems
and deal with the things we like. It is important not to blame yourself for the
patient’s condition, not to give up if the disease wins again, and not us, and
to find strength in fighting other health problems of the patient. If the
patient is troublesome, cranky and frustrated, it is worth explaining his
behavior with illness and suffering, and not with deliberate malice directed
against us. It facilitates work and changes our attitude towards the mentee.
None of us is self-sufficient. It is more
obvious that in a situation of a loved one’s chronic illness, we should be able
to use the help of others. It will certainly be useful for both caregivers and
the sick. It is worth remembering the following possibilities:
• support of family, friends and even
• support groups (it’s easiest to contact the
attending physician to contact them),
• help of specialists – doctor, psychologist,
• relax – that is, all those forms of activity
that bring relaxation to a given person (walking, reading, cooking, jogging, nordic
walking, listening to music, meeting with friends, etc.)
If the caregiver understands that he is not
irreplaceable and there are no contraindications for some of the duties to be
taken over by others, and additionally he will take care of his mental comfort
– there is much less chance of being touched by the Caregiver’s Syndrome.
Lasarus R. S. (1966), Psychological stress and the
coping proces. New York: McGrow-Hill
Kristof-Brown A. L., Zimmerman R. D., Johnson E. C.
(2005), Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: A meta-analysis of
person-job, person-organization, person-group, and person-supervisor FIT,
Selye H. (1983), The stress concept: Past, present,
and future. New York: C. L. Cooper
Styrycharczyk D., Clough P. (2015), Developing Mental
Toughness. Coaching strategies to improve performance, resiliences and
wellbeing. London: Kogan.