Caregivers play a critically important role in the lives of people with pain. Caregivers provide a great deal of emotional and practical support. Far too often, though, that role may be overlooked or minimized. We frequently become caregivers by default. We may be the parent, adult child or family member who lives the closest or "has time." We don't train to become caregivers, but rather learn about it on the job. Few experiences prepare us for the burdens and rewards of caring for someone else with pain.
Pain is one of the hardest aspects of coping with a loved one's medical diagnosis. Caregivers may not always be included or involved in health care decisions for the person with pain. Caregivers may feel helpless, sad, depressed, angry, guilty, or isolated, and those feelings of isolation can increase with the duration of caregiving. Caregiving is a difficult job and many caregivers show symptoms of psychological and physical stress, especially when caregiving continues over a long period of time. The competing demands for your time can be overwhelming. Sometimes the burden of caregiving is too much to handle, whether you're involved in the person's day to day life or are providing long-distance caregiving. Both are incredibly stressful. It is so important to acknowledge that that your emotional responses are normal. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
There are many resources to help support you in your caregiver role. The American Pain Foundation (APF) lists several on its Caregivers inks page. The National Family Caregivers Association spearheads National Family Caregivers Month every November and APF has signed on as an endorsing organization. They even provide 10 Tips for Family Caregivers.
APF recognizes that caregivers are vital supporters in the lives of those with pain. In collaboration with The HealthCentral Network, we offer CareCentral, a powerful way to help you cope. Caregivers, you can create your own CareCentral site, start a journal or guestbook, share photos, get organized, maintain a calendar, create a wishlist, make announcements and more. You can invite your family and friends to join your site to keep in touch and provide support. Join CareCentral and take good care of yourselves. Believe that you do not have to go through your caregiving journey alone.