In our society housewives or women are the caregivers for different types of mentally ill patients. They have to compromise with their basic needs which may have profound negative consequences for the patients. Also their husbands’ families don’t feel bad to take them for granted which is sad in today’s world where people are educated and should be aware of the need of self care which is not selfishness. They have to perform the role of allrounder, that is the role of caregivers, mothers, wives , daughter – in – law and daughters too. Also their maternal family members think it’s a blessing to serve their household unconditionally but it’s harmful for the families.
Mild level of recreation is important for them to function properly so that they don’t have mental issues like anxiety, depression or any other behavioural problems like irritability in mood and anger outbursts which arise from boredom. In India, more than 90% of patients with chronic mental illness live with their families.The family caregivers play multiple roles in care of persons with mental illness, including taking day-to-day care, supervising medications, taking the patient to the hospital and looking after the financial needs. They also have to bear with the behavioural disturbances in the patient. This is how they experience considerable stress and burden, and need help in coping with it. They develop different kinds of coping strategies to deal with the burden. An unhealthy coping style is likely to adversely affect the caregiving function. Hence, it is important to take care of the needs of the family caregivers. The family caregivers have remained a neglected lot. This key support system can’t be taken as granted and ignored .
Focus of my article is on the burden experienced by the family caregivers, their needs and how to help them.
COPING WITH CAREGIVER BURDEN
Most caregivers take up the caring role in the absence of any significant knowledge about the illness. The role and demands are incorporated within the regular family responsibilities. The caregivers develop different kinds of coping strategies to deal with the burden of caregiving. A lot of trial and error may be involved in coping. The coping strategies can be broadly grouped into two groups: Emotion focused and problem focused. The emotion focused strategies aim to diminish the negative emotional impact of the stressor, and include avoidance, denial, fatalism, or looking to religion. The problem focused coping refers to direct actions, which an individual undertakes to change the situation. These include problem solving or seeking social support to resolve the stress of caregiving.
It is important to understand caregivers’ coping mechanisms for tackling burden, because it affects caregivers’ day-to-day functioning. The burden is a constant source of stress, and how the caregivers cope with it, affects the course of illness. The burden and the coping methods also influence the physical and mental health of the caregiver and hence their further efficacy as a caregiver.
The emotion focused coping has been reported to be associated with perception of higher burden, whereas predominantly problem focused and fewer emotion focused coping strategies lead to reduced perception of burden. Caregiver’s positive evaluation of their coping strategies is associated with reduced distress levels and positive attitude toward the patient (independent of symptoms and levels of burden). Problem solving coping has been reported to be associated with better functioning.
Author Sradhanjali Dasgupta
Consultant Psychologist, Speaker , Learning Developmental Coach, Teacher and trainer Miss. Sradhanjali Dasgupta has been extensively working in the field of Counselling and education for the past few years in several Clinics, Hospitals, NGOs and educational sectors. She also contributes her writings and blogs in various newspapers, magazines and e- magazines Her training and workshops are both for the corporate as well as for the educational sector and are geared up for learning and development,upgradation and capacity building. She have actively taken part in many debates