ARTICLES / Caregiver / RX For
The Caregiver /
By Janet Listokin, M.A., C.T.R.S.
Do caregivers experience physical and emotional
stress? Do they have special needs, which are to
be addressed so that they can perform effectively? Are
there ways caregivers can, and must, take care of
themselves? “Quality of Life,” most often, is
discussed in terms of the individual requiring the care.
However, it must also be experienced by the caregiver.
There are many individuals who require care at home or
in long-term facilities – children and adults who are
developmentally disabled, those with physical
disabilities and individuals with cognitive impairments.
Care is shouldered by family members and/or professional
caregivers and, depending on the individuals’ needs, may
include minimal assistance during the day to total
dependency 24 hours, seven days a week. Such
demand places a tremendous burden on the caregiver,
which may result in some or all of the following
emotions: sadness, physical pain, anger, frustration,
hopelessness, despair, isolation, sleep and appetite
difficulties, anxiety, low energy and depressed mood.
For caregivers employed at large facilities, the stress
of caring for many medically and/or mentally compromised
patients/residents can be overwhelming. Though
there are scheduled break times, the caregiver is
assigned several tasks which must be completed by a
certain time as not to interfere with the natural rhythm
of life. With the shortage of skilled
professionals within the nursing field, caregivers are
often asked to “float” to other units and assume
The professional caregiver who works in the home may
have additional responsibilities as compared to those
working in facilities. They may include physical
care without appropriate assistive devices, cooking,
escorting the individual into the community, providing
recreational interests, etc. All these tasks are
to be accomplished without the support and camaraderie
of other personnel.
The part-time or full-time family caregiver bears
the heaviest of burdens, assuming the role without
any formal training/education. Adding an
additional layer of emotional stress is the
caregiver’s realization that the individual who now
needs their care is not the child they had
envisioned once upon a time or the adult they
remember fondly from their own childhood. This
illustrates the proverbial reversal of roles from
care recipient to care provider.
Which is your lifestyle? The professional
caregiver who returns home from work to again assume a
caregiving role with children, parents, relatives,
spouse, etc.? Or the family caregiver, upon a
similar return from work immediately assumes the
responsibility just vacated by the professional
caregiver? Or lastly, the full-time family primary
caregiver who has assumed all responsibilities all of
the time? Whichever role, the continuous stress
and non-stop responsibility can lead to burnout and
affects job performance. Caregivers need to set
aside time to relax and pursue leisure interests.