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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Importance of Counseling for Caregivers

Caregivers are in a unique position to provide care for the physical, mental and spiritual needs of parents and other loved ones. However, who cares for the caregiver’s needs? Caregiving is a mentally and physically demanding task (and often thankless) that takes its toll, not only in aching muscles and bones, but also in the psyche and spirit. Understanding the need for counseling, when necessary, helps caregivers to maintain quality of care and positive outlooks when charged with another's care.

The Necessity of Counseling
Many caregivers go through periods of stress, depression, and frustration. These are normal human responses. Feeling them does not in any way mean that a caregiver is inadequate. Most caregivers pour their heart and soul into their task, and the emotional toll can sometimes be quite devastating.

When asked about signs of caregiver "burnout" or stress, Shawn Hertz, of the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center says, "They become more resentful… there are quite a few red flags, and they cut across medical symptoms, physical symptoms, psychological symptoms and social symptoms. That's the important thing to remember about stress: it doesn't just affect one aspect of our lives. It affects all the major aspects of our lives that make us a whole person."

Caregivers who receive regular emotional support are much more apt to be able to handle difficult decisions, situations, and to help clarify needs of care receivers. Whether such emotional support is personal, through one-on-one contact with a supervisor, counselor, religious member of the community, or group support, the availability of counseling may prove invaluable to maintaining high-quality care.

Caring for loved ones often brings caregivers a great sense of accomplishment, but at times, overwhelming demands may affect a caregiver's physical condition, in addition to many other aspects of their life. It is not uncommon for caregivers to occasionally feel anger, frustration, and then grow anxious or guilty for those feelings.

One of the most devastating effects of the demands of caregiving, however, is depression. The Family Caregiver Alliance has estimated that nearly 20 percent of family caregivers suffer from some form of depression, and that over 40 percent of caregivers of Alzheimer's patients suffer from mild to moderate stages of depression during and after extended periods of care.
Of course, not all caregivers will suffer from depression, anxiety, or feelings of inadequacy, but for those who do, learning how to understand and address those feelings is one of the greatest benefits of counseling.

Read More here: http://www.agingcare.com/Featured-Stories/126208/The-Importance-of-Counseling-for-Caregivers.htm

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