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Managing the Emotional Fallout of Caregiving

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Whoever said that keeping things bottled up isn’t healthy was right. In a survey conducted by the Home Instead® network, 74 percent of caregivers who hide their feelings report fatigue, 53 percent report difficulty sleeping, 37 percent say they have experienced depression and 30 percent have experienced weight gain or loss.

In her column at®, caregiving expert Dr. Amy D’Aprix advises a family caregiver who has gained 40 pounds because she is depressed caring for a husband with multiple health issues who doesn’t appreciate her. Her story may resonate with other family caregivers.

“I feel totally lost. I have no motivation,” says the caregiver. “But I know I have to take care of everything because I no longer have a partner that can or will help. He doesn't go anywhere with me. I work part time. I take care of his granddaughter because otherwise he wouldn't see her. If I mention that I don't want to watch her on a certain day he says it’s because she isn't my blood. He doesn't seem to realize that I need a day off now and then. I tell him, but I just can't get through to him. Is there someplace I could go to talk to someone? I don't have health insurance. I feel so lonely.”

Dr. D’Aprix advises this family caregiver to seek counseling immediately. A good option for families without health insurance is the county mental health department. “In addition to counseling, talking with people who are going through similar situations can make you feel less alone,” Dr. D’Aprix explains. “I think you might find the support of other people helpful, and I recommend a caregiver support group. Feeling lost and alone is common among caregivers, but I want to assure you that you are definitely not alone! I encourage you to look for a caregiver support group in your community. A starting point would be to do an Internet search. There are also online support groups and chat rooms for caregivers.”

Dr. D’Aprix reminds caregivers who are going through similar situations to look to both professional and peer support. “Anyone in this situation needs to know that help is available: You deserve to have more peace of mind and happiness!”

Dr. D’Aprix offers other family caregivers advice for coping with the stress of caregiving with practical tips and resources.

Last revised: July 9, 2012

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. November 8, 2018 at 2:47 am | Posted by Jill

    Need to find a caegivdr friend?


    • January 2, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Posted by Stella

      Hi Jill. My name is Stella and Im a caregiver for my mother. Feel free to reach out to me if you need to vent or talk?


      • February 1, 2019 at 1:40 am | Posted by Peecee Mason for my 93yo neighbor with dementia. have known her for 10 yrs. normally a sweetheart but here in late stages is awnry and stubborn as a mule. angry and combatinve at times. sundowns at 3pm with or without meds. can bearly stand without asst, but always trying to get out of chair or bed. forgets walker or rebels and refuses to use it. eats contiunally w/no wt gain. anxious and impatient to no end. only child who is adopted has poa and he now never calls nor come see her. my family has adopted her as a grandma and highly respects her. I find it difficult to cope with the wandering, rebellion, smart mouth answers. I'm exhausted from trying to respond to the many daily demands. yes I can say we've spoiled her, but its getting to be too much. my family helps me care for her, but she has distant relatives who won't even come see her. yes she has done somethings pridefully in past concerning finances to push them away. it's a sad story. So, NO one cares for her but me and my family. I become so angry with her demands and constant requests that I find myself yelling, stressed. no sleep at times from her gettting out of bed 6-10 times a night with or without meds. we ride her around late afternoon, walk the malls to wear her out so she can sleep better. no daytime napping if possible. dont see how she does it...going without sleep and never collapse. We (including drs) have tried meds, natural supplements, simple interventions and nothing seems to be working. Jesus is all I can say. I miss the sweet old lady she once was. this person I care for a total nightmare.


  2. October 10, 2018 at 11:55 pm | Posted by Cheri callahan

    I'm a caregiver to my 83 yr old father. This is tthe hardest thing ever. I get no help. I have a adult (35) handicapp son the state removed him because of my father. He has been more anxious and irritable then usual. At times I don't think I can go on. I'm so isolated and my siblings say I bring it on myself. We don't get along. I feel like I'm at the end of my rope. Took care of mom for many yrs until she passed 1/12 yrs ago. They were married 64 yrs. Scared .


  3. November 27, 2017 at 11:02 am | Posted by Ann Broski

    I feel for you from taking care of my Mom, God rest her sole. If you can afford getting in a CNA or some help from a professional agency just to get in twice a week for showers it might be so much easier for you. Showers had to be the most challeging for me. The CNA I hired had no problem at all getting my Mom showered. I think it might have been that my Mom was so modest she was embarrassed in front of me. I got out of the house to shop while the CNA was there for her minimum 4 hour window or whatever the company requires. It was worth a little sanity for me. God Bless you.


  4. February 11, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Posted by Susan Marks

    Reading everyone stories makes me realize I'm not alone with my problems. I live with my 81 year old mother who has altizmers and she is starting with the anger problems and refusing to take showers. I have help from an older sister but it's gotten where she doesn't want to try to help. Says she can't handle it. So I'm stuck. I can leave her for an hour or so to go to the store but then she fusses at me and calls me a liar no matter what I tell her. I'm adjusting to not having much help with her but somebody tell me how to get her to take showers PLEASE.


  5. March 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Posted by Barbara

    I take care of my 87 year old mother. My parents were married for 65 years and when he passed away a few years back she simply gave up. She refuses to help herself at all. I have tried everything to get her to get out but all she want to do is sit in her room and watch TV and complain about aches and pains but refuses to excersise so that so it could get any better. I am an only child and so I have very little help. I really could use some advise.


    • August 21, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Posted by Carol ciampa

      I know how that feels and I guess I can tell, u that you can try sitting with her and say mom let's do some morning stretching then pull your arms up over your head straight up and start doing just over head then arm circles ect , this gets the blood flowing and the mood lifted I say " reach to the sky " like akid and then stretch your fingers", move your fingers like your squeezing a ball , ten go to breathing in and out ect, morning stretch


  6. October 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Posted by Rosalie French

    My husband wants to be with me 24/7 and doesn't want me to ever leave without him...he shadows me most of the day which is o.k. but once in a while I need someone to stay with him so that I can have a break and do things that I can't do with him...he thinks I don't "like" him when I try to leave so I just stay at home...we have always done things together (we've been married 56 years) but this is just a little bit too much "togetherness"..


    • March 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Posted by Judy

      Rosalie, I am also a 24/7 caregiver for my husband of 34 years. He has early onset Parkinson's and has been unable to walk for 2 years now. He is starting with dementia which is really making things harder. I also experience his anxiety whenever I have to leave even for small errands my own anxiety also. I have no help from anyone and he doesn't want anyone else with him. You are not alone, there are many of us out there with the same problems. Our soul mates can no longer live the life they once had and neither can we.


  7. September 14, 2012 at 1:27 am | Posted by Mary

    We had a sudden unintended acceleration on parking last Jan.Were about to park when car accelerated and went into a brick wall at a rehab facility. Fortunately no one was walkng on side walk in front of parking spot. My airbag (passenger) deployed (but now I have rotator cuff and other problems because of it). Husband's airbag did not deploy, he hit steering wheel with head and chest. He is 86 (13 years my senior) and that was enough to tip him over the edge. He can no longer drive and his memory has deteriorated badly. He has no balance system (vestibular system) due to antibiotic Gentamicin (1998). Since 1998 he has taken some bad falls and hit his head many times. He was doing OK but now he can hardly remember anything. Hyundai denies anything was wrong with car but will not provide us with reports. Dr. says memory loss is age related and not dementia, but some family members and I do not agree. I feel so alone as I am trying to run our house by myself. We have two dogs (got a puppy in July after lost one of our dogs). Gluttons for punishment you might stay. Being 72 I do not feel ready for assisted living and we have wonderful neighbors but Dr.. has toldme not to leave my husband alone even though he has Life Line. We have no family in the area. I am now doing practically everything myself, running house, driving to appointments, cooking, watching out for my husband. I have post polio, polymyalgia, no colon, two knee and one hip replacement. We hire help, lawn people, light house cleaning, etc,but it all costs money.I have signed my husband up for Cherry Lite (small bus) as my husband uses a rollator (wheeled walker). I am finding life very hard. Anyone else in my situation? We used to travel so much, and would go to England to see my family. Have not been there now for 10 years. Know I need to get out on my own but Dr. said not to leave husband, and I feel bad to leave him as he does not have jmuch to look forward to. Anyone else in my position? How to do you handle things. W ehave been married 41 years and this has been the worst year of the 41. I love to garden, especially my flowers, but now it too is getting to be a chore. My hands are deforming so I can no longer knit or crochet.


    • February 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Posted by Patty Bickel

      Dear Mary, Although I can't relate to some of your story, something in it gave me an idea: why not use your knitting and crocheting to "escape"? At 66 years old, the arthritis in my fingers and wrist make long sessions of knitting/crocheting pretty painful. And the first joints of both index fingers are so deformed, they point 'way out away from my hand. But with a bit of patience I re- learned how to knit, twisted fingers and all, although crocheting is a bit more challenging now. I would be lost without my "yarn crafts" to while away the hours. Please give it another try. While you work at making another beautiful and useful knit project, your mind can travel anywhere it likes! I will also say a prayer for you.


  8. September 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Posted by Jenny BomBerry

    I am living on Ontario Works while taking care of my mother...which is $213 a month...there is no access to counselling...what would I need counselling for? I live off my mother's pension while taking care of her needs...the gov' I've tried to get an early pension...answer? NO!...have to wait til I'm the $ is everything and we run out of $ just the week B4 the next chq comes is very stressful trying to make ends meet for 2 who doesn't really need much but the other at age 92...needs a lot of care...being housebound for the both of depressing...have siblings but everyone works...I quit to take care of my mother...but it is vegetating my mind...trying to get out is only if I can find someone...otherwise...I am doesn't have me to point that I take pills but some days I want I depend on my son to take some of the bill expenses away...still being housebound at 64 is awful!


  9. July 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Posted by nancy guenthner

    In reference to dealing with stress and anxiety, I take breaks. I find that by telling my dad and my brother that if something happens, call 911. I say to myself when I am anxious or stressed out, 911 is on board, they are on duty to deal with emergencies while I am on break. Sometimes, I take two to three day breaks and say that phrase often, I say it to my dad and brother and state this time is for me so I can be helpful for you, dad, and mark, my brother. If I am not in good emotional mental shape, I am of no help to others or myself. Nancy


    • September 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Posted by Nan B. Johnson

      I found the story from Mary overwhelming. It made my problems with taking care of my son minor in comparison. I was forced to retire early to take care of him and the finances are not great, but better than Jenny BomBerry. My son is on disability and I am on social security. He has beginning dementia and failing health with multiple problems. 5/4/11, my son was only given 2 months to live. This is 9/27/12 and he is still here, although very sick. I take him to multiple dr appointments, sometimes 4 per week and go through a lot of time and gas. Trying to force him to drink liquids and eat properly is absolutely draining as well as going over the same things over and over and attempting to explain something that I know he does not understand. I suffer spinal stenosis and arthritis in my lower back as well as a torn miniscus in my knees that make housework very difficult. My beautiful German Shepherd that let me give it tight hugs, to get it all out, died the end of April. I am looking for another smaller dog. I found a measure of relief when I read Nancy Guenthner's comment. I will take her advice and take, at least, one day a week just for me.


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