You never really see it coming and then it happens. Your spouse or loved one has a tragic accident and is now physically disabled. You go through the difficulties together of trying to relearn navigating around the house, installing the proper technology and resources in your home for accessibility and even counseling for how they can deal with being newly disabled. There are tons of resources that help you to properly take care of your loved one, but sometimes it does not prepare you for the emotional hardship you both will face.
Often times when a loved one becomes disabled and a family member or spouse decides to be their caregiver, the caregiver is often unprepared for the emotional changes that their loved one will go through. They will not be able to perform certain duties or tasks that they were once able to do without your help, which can make them feel helpless. They may not even be able to do certain activities that they once enjoyed such as reading, writing, sewing, swimming or any other hobby that would require the type of movement or ability that they no longer have.
Being physically disabled can be emotionally tasking on your loved one, especially if their caregiver has taken over some of the duties or responsibilities that made them feel important. You may find yourself arguing a lot and not understand the reason why they are suddenly lashing out at you, but don’t become hopeless. Instead, here are some tips on how to overcome care giving hopelessness and burnout:
Understand that your loved one is hurting
Just as taking care of someone with a disability is new to you, remember that being disabled is new to your loved one. It is imperative for you to understand as their caregiver that they are not angry at you, but rather that their life has changed and that they are dealing with new emotions and situations that are unfamiliar to them. Try to see their behavior for what it really is. Being physically disabled is socially, mentally and emotionally difficult, especially for someone who was not born into their condition. It may be difficult, but do not engage in any arguments. Breathe and let your frustration go and take the time to discuss what they are feeling. Try to be their at-home counselor as well as their caregiver by just giving a listening ear. This will allow you to both come to terms with your new reality.
Make them feel helpful
Your loved one may not be able to do some of the things they used to do, but you can still make them feel helpful. When they would normally cook or clean, ask them for recipes, tips or techniques. This would allow them to still feel valued while also keeping the tension and frustration at a minimum.
Pat yourself on the back
Although it might hurt that your loved one doesn‘t compliment because of obliviousness, ingratitude or spite, you can still pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve put it to care for your loved one. If your loved one constantly complains about your cooking, cleaning or any other duties you perform around the house, don’t mind it. Again, it is just their reaction to not being able to physically move and feeling invaluable. Just remember that you are doing the best you can, and they will appreciate your help and support in the long run.
Don’t give up hope yet caregiver. Remember that you care about your loved one, along with these tips and you can begin to feel helpful and hopeful.
For more tips on how to reduce caregiver stress and burnout, check out our articles on our blog!