Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Topic: Caregiver Can Experience Mental Distress

Mental distress (or psychological distress) is a term used by mental health practitioners, to describe a range of symptoms and experiences of a person’s internal life that are commonly held to be out of the ordinary. In the caregiving space, mental distress can potentially lead to harm and injury as well as how care is provided to a loved one. Caregiving is mental, physical, and emotional. If unchecked, putting these three together can lead to disastrous outcomes.

Caregivers Must Be Proactive!

How a caregiver shows up in the caregiving space can determine how to care, that is necessary, for a loved one or care recipient is rendered. When caring for individuals that are nonverbal, have cognitive decline, or have a high level of physical challenges, and concentrated care is required to keep one safe, caregiving of this magnitude, day-in, and day-out, is distressing. When there is a feeling of being trapped in the role, noted energy loss and general fatigue become obvious, it signals that help is needed. We are seeing this conversation with healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients. When emotions are not addressed and put in check, caregiving suffers.

It is very important to verbalize these feelings. This is a proactive step! Use your village to give you support so you can walk away and “just breathe.”Any negative feelings should be addressed to prevent harming a loved one. Finally, realize that medical mediations are the strongest consideration you can lean on. We are all humans, and watching or seeing someone with chronic health conditions that limit their abilities will take a toll on any compassionate soul. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, pay attention to your feelings, emotions, level of energy, or lack of, and garnish all support. Your quality of life as a caregiver is just as important as the ones we care for and support.

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is author and speaker. Her book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor shares caregiving tips.