The stresses of caring must be addressed

Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.
Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.

Few people are prepared for the responsibilities and tasks involved in caring for loved ones who are ill, elderly or disabled.

The quality of the relationship between you and your loved one depends on several factors. One of the most important is how well you take care of yourself.

It is not unusual to feel a range of emotions, including anger, resentment, anxiety, frustration, sadness and guilt.

Caring for someone causes tremendous stress. It is important to address the possible causes of this.

One of them is not having a family network who could help. For people who live far away it may be difficult to realise how much time and money the person close at hand is devoting to care.

Financial stress is inevitable when someone requires constant care. The primary care-giver may have to work fewer hours or find less demanding work, which may pay less. Many carers have to stop working completely.

There are also cultural expectations where daughters are expected to care for both parents and in-­laws.

These situations can create enormous stress amongst family members. This can lead to more problems if not openly addressed.

Caring can also be physically demanding — extra cleaning, cooking, shopping and laundry add to existing responsibilities.

Being a carer can cut you off from family and friends. You may be too tired to have an evening out, or there may not be any cover. This can result in feeling angry and resentful towards the person being cared for.

It is not unusual to feel a range of emotions, including anger, resentment, anxiety, frustration, sadness and guilt. These emotions may conflict with the love that you feel for the person you are caring for and the satisfaction you feel from contributing to their quality of life.

It is not surprising that many carers become overwhelmed and begin to feel burnt out.

Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. For information visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk