Caregiving is inherently an emotional endeavor full of ups and downs. Emotions range from feeling highly rewarded and satisfied to feeling dangerously stressed and frustrated. According to research, caregiving takes its toll by raising overall anxiety and depression levels caused by stress. Increased stress is known to increase anger. Anger is especially high among those who provide care to older people with dementia, a group of seniors known to be short-tempered, albeit through no fault of their own. Here are 5 ways to help cope with any anger that may arise when caring for an irascible older person.
Identify the Warning Signs of Building Anger and Frustration
Research has proven that caregivers are less likely to acknowledge any anger they may be feeling because of shame or even guilt. They may feel as if they are not doing their job properly or that they are even being selfish for getting upset when the elderly person has an uncontrollable outburst, refuses care, or exhibits yet another lapse in judgment.
"The ways in which caregivers deal with anger feelings associated with caregiving are critical to their own physical health and their ability to provide care," say researchers Lopez, Romero- Moreno, Marquez-Gonzalez, & Losada (2013). Instead of stuffing that frustration down and trying to ignore it, it is healthier to acknowledge it as a normal emotion involved with caregiving.
Coping with Anger while Caregiving
Once you can identify anger, you can begin to put into practice some of the following ways to manage it.
Trying to remain optimistic when caring for a short-tempered older person is not an easy task. It is often an unpleasant part of caregiving. By taking the time to practice good self-care and keep the bigger picture in mind, you can improve your physical and emotional well-being by reducing your own anger and recognizing your own personal limits.
Lopez, J., Romero-Moreno, R., Marquez-Gonzalez, M., & Losada, A. (2013). Anger and Health in Dementia Caregivers: Exploring the Mediation Effect of Optimism. Stress and Health, 31(2). Available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Javier_Lopez13/publication/257756489_Anger_and_Health_in_Dementia_Caregivers_Exploring_the_Mediation_Effect_of_Optimism_Optimism_Mediation/links/54662d090cf25b85d17f5ae8.pdf. Last Visited February 25, 2016.
National Institute on Aging. (2015). Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging. Available at https://d2cauhfh6h4x0p.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/caring-for-a-person-with-alzheimers-disease.pdf. Last Visited February 25, 2016.