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.
Many caregivers go through periods of burnout, 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.