When Does Caregiving Traumatize?

broken-heart.svg.medA few weeks ago, The New York Times published an article with the headline, “For Traumatized Caregivers, Therapy Helps.”

The article made me wonder if caregiving is a traumatic experience. So, last week, on our Hot Topics show, our panel of family caregivers discussed my question: Is caregiving a traumatic experience? You can listen to our show via the player, below.

During our show, Richard (@kreisler) spoke about a recent experience which felt traumatic. During his mom’s hospitalization, he could not get doctors to listen to him and his knowledge of what would help his mom. Jane (@jbones1961) talked about the trauma rearing its ugly head during those emotionally trying days, like a day that includes an appointment to assess Nicole for a heart/lung transplant. And, @ejourneys shared how traumatic the experience felt when caregiving began because it’s so isolating.

We continued our conversation last night during our chat on Twitter. We had a great conversation about what helplessness feels like, what the opposite of helplessness is, and how to keep a feeling of confidence and power during caregiving.

So, I’d love to know what you think. Does caregiving feel traumatic to you? If it does, when? How do you heal from the trauma? Please share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

Listen to internet radio with Denise Brown on Blog Talk Radio
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About Denise

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

5 thoughts on “When Does Caregiving Traumatize?

  1. Phil Willis

    Traumatic is a loaded word, but caring for another person (old or young) is definitely a major cause of stress in people’s lives.

    Thanks for drawing attention to such an important topic.

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of PegiPegi

    Daily. Beginning with the first day we were told Hubby need spinal cord surgery April 2012, right through to today. No matter how much I/we try to treat this as we did all the other ailments as our new normal; it still is there; every monute of every day. Don’t know how, or when it will heal. The most relief I get is here; sharing experiences with other Caregivers. It helps, but agreeing with ejourney’s; still isolated and alone.

    Reply
  3. Profile photo of BusybeeBusybee

    I loved listening to you all on the radio. Sorry for it being so late. But I have a hard time getting on line at that time because I am taking care of my father-in-law. It seam that I don’t get a break. But Traumatize is a loaded word. But I have to agree I hit rock bottom more then once a month. I feel lost some times and no one is there to listen to me. I am glad I have found you all. That you all.

    Reply
  4. Wife caregiver

    Traumatized….such a hard thing to pinpoint. I would say it is the struggle of working, trying to keep things “normal” for my kids, taking care of everything around the house and caring for my husband who has sca1. He can get angry and it is usually at me and I lose my patience… I’m tired if it and don’t know what to do. I’m glad I found this group.

    Reply
  5. Profile photo of jankajanka

    I feel traumatized! My husbands condition seems to be deteriorating and I feel so totally helpless! I feel like I have lost control of everything! On top of that I care for my 96 year old mother in law that lives next door. We have lived next door to her for 30 years and with every passing year I feel so trapped! Her youngest child, my husbands brother, and his wife, have elected to do nothing to help. My mother in law is unable to comprehend how sick her son, my husband, is. She said she would starve herself to death before she would go to a nursing home. I am ready to starve myself to death! This has been going on since December of 2013. My husband had to close his antique shop and I can’t work because his neurologist said he can’t be left alone. He has fallen several times lately and one night I had to call police for a lift assist! She has home health but refuses to cooperate with them and was taking her medication incorrectly – she sure put on a show at her doctor’s office in June though! I was speechless when I saw how she acted! And she was soooo hateful to me! I don’t know what she thinks would happen to her if I wasn’t around! There is no love lost between us because of various family issues. We have started the process to admit her to the nursing home but have not mentioned it to her again – yet. If she reacts negatively I think I shall lose my mind. I love my husband of 33 years but some days I don’t know who he is – and my heart is breaking! How can I make her understand that in order for me to take care of her son, and if she loves him, she will go willingly to the nursing home. Otherwise, her care and his care is going to be spread too thin. I made a vow to him when we married, but not to her! We live in a very small town with limited resources. My husband is becoming difficult for even me to take care of – but I just can’t be away from him now. I am so incredibly sad- some days I just don’t think I can bear to watch him struggle.

    Reply

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