The Laureate Way

Articles to Help Families and Older Adults Manage the Challenges of Aging

The Impact of Caregiving on the Caregiver

The Impact of Caregiving on the Caregiver

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are about 16 million adult family caregivers caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. My friend, Susan, is one of those caregivers. In a statement from the early stages of a book she’s writing about her journey with both her parents through the reality of Alzheimer’s, Susan accurately describes the impact of caregiving on the caregiver. She has kindly allowed me to share:

The days were fraught with surprise, heartache, sleepless nights, agonizing decisions, and more than a little family angst.”

Her experience is shared by so many, but the impact of caregiving on the caregiver doesn’t have to be tied to just Alzheimer’s. Anyone who’s caring for or supporting a loved one whose health is challenged have common threads in their stories.

Impact of Caregiving on the Caregiver

In her book, Susan describes:

Each week brought a series of decisions that needed to be made, tasks that needed to be accomplished, and conversations that needed to be had. Some were relatively straightforward…others I dreaded because of their sensitivity or urgent need of a difficult decision.”

Can you feel the anxiety embedded in her insightful description?

I know so many individuals who are living their version of her story today. Some are still in the midst of the storm, while others are trying to make sense of it all in hindsight. You buckle up, you prepare for a bumpy ride, and you do what has to be done. It’s usually done out of love, sometimes with a touch of obligation mixed in. And hopefully a strong dose of faith in a higher power.

Caregiving Needs Forgiveness

At a certain point in time, we hopefully make a conscious decision to forgive ourselves for our imperfections. We spend time assessing our situation and acknowledge that we are human, flawed by our very nature, and put forth our best.

Susan’s story is realizing that you are not alone. It can be a lonely road, with many quiet, introspective and contradicting thoughts. Am I doing the right thing? Have I done enough? Is it ever enough? What will others think of me if I make the wrong decision?

But each day, we give what we can, sometimes more than we realized we were capable of, and look toward the next day. After all, we still have our own life to live.

Care for those who need you. Give to the best of your ability. But don’t lose yourself in the process.