Are the Relatives of Dependents the Second Victims of the Disease?

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Taking care of a family member. The cycle of old age is becoming increasingly long. At times, adapting to the circumstances of senior citizens to care for them can mean a brutal (and often impossible) change for many families. The role these people take on, plus having to reconcile it with one’s responsibilities, can be exhausting and overwhelming. It is also often a sudden situation that is difficult to manage.

Taking care of a family member is not easy

Caring for a family member often leads to changes in our lifestyle. Sometimes you have to juggle to keep everything under control: work, children, social life, housework, etc. All this means sacrifice and wear and tear. These situations can become overwhelming and trigger feelings that are harmful to mental and physical health: Stress, anxiety and/or depression. It is from here that feelings such as guilt, fear, or even self-pity flourish.

This is not surprising given that it is the family member who takes on the main tasks of caring for the sick. They assume the responsibility this entails. They are also perceived by the rest of the family members as being responsible for the care of the sick, and are not paid financially.

But even knowing all this, why can’t we be satisfied?

Guilt is a common feeling among caregivers. Many of the family members who combine this task with day-to-day personal ones may feel guilty for various reasons:

  • Facing a possible admission to a nursing home.
  • Spending time by themselves, thinking they are taking time away from the time spent caring.
  • For discussions with other family members who do not collaborate in the care.
  • Neglecting other family responsibilities.
  • Having to make difficult decisions regarding the health and care of the person being cared for without feeling they have the capacity to do so.

Many of the family members who combine this task with their day-to-day personal ones become overwhelmed. They feel that they are not giving their relatives everything they deserve and/or think that they are not giving enough. If we look at the problem in perspective, we will realise that the day is not that long and we would have to put aside some obligations (if this is possible) in order to attend to others.

Overload of taking care of a family member

Family members who care for their relatives are second victims of the disease. The problem of dependency not only affects those who suffer from it, but also those who have to provide the necessary assistance to enable them to continue living with dignity.

But what is overload and to what extent does one suffer from it?

‘Overload’ the degree to which the caregiver perceives that the care has influenced different aspects of his/her health, social, personal and economic life. There is ample evidence of the impact of care on the physical and mental health of the carer. Different studies testify to this.

A possible solution

In these cases, where the day does not give for more and the responsibilities do not diminish, it is time to think about delegating the care to a person external to the family nucleus. We will learn to feel less responsible for the situation. Little by little, we will be able to relieve such pressures by entrusting the care tasks to a professional person. Likewise, at Nomenial, we work to promote the permanence of the adult in the home through the selection of trusted carers. Our carers aim to help with symptoms such as: the physical and psychological burden, fear and stress. (Also toxic for the person to be cared for). And we will gain in peace of mind, well-being and, most importantly, quality of life.