The Emotional Fallout of Caregiver Burnout

Helping Busy Caregivers Manage Care!

Perhaps the roughest of all Journey Stops is Journey Stop One, where it all begins. This is a point in time when you have to come to grips with the fact that your Mom and Dad are declining. You realize, especially if it’s a cognitive decline that they are slipping away and will never be as they were in years past. The current reality may be as simple as they are forgetting things – or they may be saying hateful or mean things that are totally out of character for them. Emotional meltdown, so to speak, is beginning and fallout may likely occur.

This is a hard pill to swallow. An outsider looking in can understand all of it logically. But for you – it’s your Mom! At first you may be in denial. You may chalk it up to “ Mom’s just having a bad day”. But then you realize that it’s much worse than that. Momma’s having severe cognitive issues and will never be the same again.

None of us are machines

How does the strain of watching a parent decline affect us emotionally? How does it affect the way that we act and interact with those we love? None of us are machines. We are all living breathing emotional human beings and it’s often impossible to watch a loved one decline without suffering emotional trauma ourselves.

How do we keep the emotional fallout we suffer as a side effect of watching our Mom or Dad decline from spilling over to those we love? Is it possible to make sure that we are not “paying the bad stuff forward”? How do we keep from being mean or hateful or short with the ones we love?

Sometimes we say mean things and hurt the ones that we love the most. The ones that are closest to us that are trying to actually help us are unfortunately easy targets of our emotional outbursts. We think that they will understand – but what we say still hurts.

Even Wonder Woman Would Struggle with Emotional Fallout!

It’s more than just trying to suck it up and be a better person. It’s more than just being tough and thinking we can hold it in and never transfer our bad emotions. Here are a few thoughts.

  1. The most obvious place to start is to try not to do all caregiving tasks by yourself. If you are the primary caregiver in a toxic situation, it’s hard not to come away from that unscathed. Get some help, especially if you are attempting to provide care 24/7. It may take a team of other family members and non-medical caregivers to be able to keep a cognitively declining Senior safe at home.
  2. Give yourself some time and space. Emotional fallout is about as volatile as nuclear fallout. Never underestimate it! It’s good to set aside some time to do activities to clear your mind like walk or run, listen to music, or just get outside. Sometimes it’s important to have respite time alone before being around others – especially those you love.
  3. Sometimes professional help is necessary. Professional medical assistance, professional caregiving services (in-home or facility care) and professional mental health services may all be needed. Many people overlook the later -there is no shame in getting professional assistance to help manage your feelings. We see many who attempt to assist a loved one with severe Alzheimer’s or dementia for several hours per day, while continuing to work and do things with and for their family. Even Wonder Woman OR Superman would suffer issues while trying to do all of that.

Don’t Try to Do It All!

If you are trying to do everything, please try to get some help and don’t forget to take care of yourself. It’s easy to become so focused on your loved one that it’s easy to forget that other important person in your life – you!

*Neither Doug or Cindy are professional mental health advisors. We’re just attorneys who have practiced in the area of Elder Law for 30+ years. Doug and Cindy have personally dealt with the emotional fallout of being a caregiver for an elderly parent. We’ve had conversations with hundreds of Adult Kids over the years who were trying to “do it all themselves”. We have witnessed the toll that this has taken in many families. All of these people were and are good people who are doing everything possible to provide for their family while helping a declining parent. As a result of trying to do “too much” someone in the family often suffered. In some cases it was them; some cases it was their family; in others, it was the person they were trying to help.

The key takeaway is to reach out for help. Recruit family members and non-medical caregivers to help in the home. Seek out the assistance, advice and input from medical professionals. Where appropriate, seek the assistance of mental health professionals. AND incorporate this help in your life sooner, rather than later. Don’t try to do it all by yourself.

We want to be friends!

Ok. That might come off a little fast, considering we barely know each other. However, we fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver.

In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. We have personally dealt with the emotional fallout as caregiver for personal Loved Ones. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers, as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community!

We have since created Caregiver Connection. Caregiver Connection is a newsletter that we write personally and send to fellow Caregivers. It is full of tips, tricks, and even professional advice. If you would like to sign up, click the button below.

Please Invite Someone to Our Newsletter

Being an Adult Kid with a declining parent can be a scary, frustrating and lonely place. As we’ve discussed, emotional fallout can be severe. You feel like you are solely responsible for solving Mom’s problems while managing yours. Some occasional input and a community to plug into would help! This is a way that all of us can be working together as caregivers!

Many others that you may personally know are having to figure it all out by themselves. Most of them have no community. Please take a minute and do them a favor. Copy this link – help.mom/cc – and send it to them in an email or private message. They can click on it and subscribe to our newsletter for free.

Then they can enjoy weekly tips and encouragement. They no longer have to feel so alone in their family caregiver journey. They will appreciate the favor! Thank you for thinking of them!

Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!

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