Caring for the affected can take a toll on oneself, therefore there is a need to balance out the stress
While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves a lot of stress. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time.
It typically results from a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health because they are focused on caring for an ill, injured or disabled loved one.
Unfortunately, this topic has not been widely shared and discussed among the society as people are taking mental health for granted. The Health spoke to experienced caregiver, Siti Aida who works with Homage, a start-up which connects professional caregivers with seniors who need help.
Responsibilities of being a caregiver
With three years of experience as a nurse — one month in anaesthetics, six months in hospital multidisciplinary wards, and two and a half years in locum including geriatric care, 30-year old soft spoken Siti Aida turned to being a full-time caregiver.
She left the medical field because she found being a caregiver to be more enjoyable. she could focus on one particular client at a time. This would mean she would get the opportunity to get to know the patient on a closer level and this helps her work more efficiently.
“It has been three years since I became a caregiver. This is indeed a career that has its fair share of ups and downs because you have a variety of patients with a variety of behaviours.
One of the challenges is because when the patients are ill, the emotions tend to be very unstable. Therefore, they would get easily upset even if you are doing all the right things and this would affect me indirectly,” explains Aida.
A challenge on its own
According to her, a caregiver is definitely a job that requires a lot of patience. She has faced occasions where she is reduced to tears when the patient lets out their anger at her without a reason.
But she takes it all positively. She explains that when she has to deal with such patients, instead of getting upset, she just smiles and laughs it off and that positivity radiates off to the patient.
“I do have several of my patients who share their feelings, it becomes more of a friendship then a client-caregiver relationship. It makes me enjoy doing what I do,” she smiles.
Most of the patients in Homage consists of the elderly, so caregivers like Aida help them with exercises and everyday movements. “I would recommend regular exercise for them, and it can be a very light exercise. It helps them to keep healthy physically as well as mentally.”
There are also clients of Aida who are at the final stage of cancer, therefore their emotions may not be stable. What makes it worse is that the family are not able to take care of them.
These types of patient is where people like Aida makes the most mark. The role provides people affected by severe diseases and are not being taken care of their family to find better care and companionship.
Giving yourself a break
“Sometimes the patients do not understand the caregiver’s own struggles, and they would input pressure that would stress us out even more. As caregivers, we try our level best to deal with that.”
When any of our colleagues are stressed, we talk to them and support them. One of the other ways we release our stress is that we exchange our patients. Homage also has operators where fellow caregivers can call to vent out their feelings. After all, all we need is just someone to vent out to.
“I believe if we do good with people, people will in return be good to us. After if we don’t do this job, who would?” smiles Aida. — The Health
One of the challenges is because when the patients are ill, the emotions tend to be very unstable. Therefore, they would get easily upset even if you are doing all the right things and this would affect me indirectly.”
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout :
- You have much less energy than you once had
- It seems like you catch every cold or a bout of flu that’s going around
- You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
- You neglect your own needs, either because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
- Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
- You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available
- You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for
- You feel helpless and hopeless