Shoulder-Season-CaregiverProviding care for a family member in need is an age-old act of kindness, love, and loyalty.

There are many different types of family caregiver situations. Regardless of your particular circumstances, you’re facing a challenging new role. If you’re like most family caregivers, you aren’t trained for the responsibilities you now face.  The good news is that you don’t have to be a nursing expert, a superhero, or a saint in order to be a good caregiver. With the right help and support, you can be a good caregiver without having to sacrifice yourself in the process.

I really never imagined that I would be called upon to be a full time caregiver for any person.  But, today, I am for my husband Tom.  He suffered brain damage due to the ruptured aneurysm and will need full time care for the remainder of his life.  He struggles with memory issues, suffering from short term memory loss, being able to care for himself, to be motivated to do any activities,  to prepare a meal for himself or any other life activities.  I am most of the time grateful for this opportunity, but being a full time caregiver also has its challenges.  You along with your loved one will have good days and bad days.  Sometimes all in one day, or even in an hour of a day.    And, include raising a child along with this full time job, I sometimes wonder if I am doing anything good for either one.  This is a journey of care, giving time, searching for caregiving resources, learning, coping with difficult decisions, managing a household, raising a daughter, managing our resources, making sure our home is safe, and that there is always good quality care for Tom whether it is me or another caregiver.

I hope the below information will be helpful to those who find themselves in similar situations.

It is not unusual for a family member to experience emotional distress at any phase of the rehabilitation process. Often, the family member is unaware of the distress because the primary focus is always on the survivor’s needs. You, the caregiver, are also in need of professional help during this family crisis.

During and immediately after the aneurysm, the family of the survivor experiences a broad range of intense emotions, such as shock, fear, worry, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. As the rehabilitation process unfolds, these emotions may continue to prey on you and further add to your already suffering. Depression, worry, anger, and grief may pile on top of your own fragile emotions. You might feel guilty and brush this feeling aside because you are so anxious to take proper care of your loved one.

Others in your situation probably undergo the same feelings and you are not alone. The emotional distress that you may experience is a natural part of the rehabilitation process and you must realize that self-care is just as important as survivor care. Your emotional well being is necessary for a positive outcome for both you and the brain aneurysm survivor.

There are many forms of emotional distress. You, the caregiver, should not view these depressed, anxious or hopeless moods as a sign of weakness. When you realize the range of emotions that you have experienced from the beginning of the aneurysm episode until the present, you will begin to appreciate how stressful life has been for you as well as for your loved one. It is important to release your emotions and understand the similarity of your feelings amongst caregivers.

It will be important for you to maintain a positive outlook throughout your care giving, which will help you develop patience with the survivor and the process. You will learn that personality and behavior changes after an aneurysm are generally not intentional, but reflect changes in brain function. They can be dramatic, with mood shifts, and tempers, or they can be more subdued. But, the survivor of the aneurysm has a difficult emotional recovery also.

The way any family member interprets the survivor’s behavior and progress plays a major role in his/her emotional condition. Consider the family of a survivor who has an aneurysm that affected the function of her frontal lobes. The frontal lobe has a great deal to do with initiation and motivation, and survivors with damage to this area may not take obvious steps toward recovery, and seem “lazy” or uncaring.  You can get frustrated thinking that they have given up or no longer interested in recovery. That is not the case. If you understand the neurological basis for the survivor’s poor motivation, you will deal much more effectively with the problem. You will have the patience to structure the survivor’s activities, and actively encourage him/her to work toward rehabilitation goals. Learning from physical therapy and learning from occupational therapy will help to work through these motivational issues.

As the caregiver, you must remember that your emotional well being is crucial to the progress of your survivor’s health. You must recognize and tend to your own emotional struggles in order to be successful. If you are the primary caregiver, consider the benefits of an aneurysm support group or a caregiver support group or private therapy. It will be a safe place to share your emotions during this turbulent and difficult time.

As a caregiver, and also being the person responsible for the raising of the children, it can be more complicated. It is important for all members of the family have some support groups or ways to express their own emotions.

10 Tips for Caregivers

  1. Caregiving is a job and respite is your earned right. Reward yourself with respite time off as often as possible.
  2. Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  3. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do. Do not feel bad about people that do not want to help. Mostly, they may not know how to help or what to do.
  4. Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors, therapists, and all caregivers.
  5. There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
  6. Trust your instincts. Most of the time, they’ll lead you in the right direction.
  7. Caregivers often do all the lifting, pushing, and pulling. Be good to your back.
  8. Grieve for your losses and then allow yourself to dream new dreams. Do not feel guilty.
  9. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great great strength in knowing you are not alone. Support groups and others that are experiencing the same, can always share knowledge.
  10. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.


Visiting Angels for in home care for your loved one.

Family Caregiver Alliance
180 Montgomery St, Ste 1100
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel: 415-434-3388
Toll Free: 800-445-8106
Fax: 415-434-3508

National Family Caregivers Association
10400 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 500
Kensington, MD 20895-3944
Toll Free: 800-896-3650
Phone: 301-942-6430
Fax: 301-942-2302