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Why Caregivers of Terminally Ill Parents Are Susceptible to Depression

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

As a caregiver of a terminal parent or loved one, you may experience signs of depression. The professionals at Rhode Island Home Care Assistance have provided some helpful tips for you to understand, prevent, and manage your experience with depression.

Don’t Internalize Your Feelings

While caring for a terminally ill loved one, you may try following your daily routine without addressing your personal struggle. Some believe this strategy provides an advantage in terms of caregiving and that ignoring emotional unrest benefits the person who is ill. In reality, when you repress your thoughts and feelings and don’t allow yourself to acknowledge your conflict, you become more susceptible to depression.

Depression Is Stealthy

Depression is typically caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or can be inflicted by traumatic life events, which may result in periods of sadness or apathy. For at-home caregivers of a terminal family member, depression is a likely and common phenomenon. You may experience emotional changes like agitation, sadness, guilt, or boredom. You may even exhibit physical symptoms such as exhaustion, weight gain or loss, or aches and pains. Prolonged exposure to difficult circumstances, like caring for an ill parent, may slowly cause these chemical imbalances and make it difficult to immediately detect depression.

Overcoming and Managing Your Depression

Today there are multiple methods to manage depression, many of which can be used in conjunction with one another. If you’re concerned you are experiencing depression, you should consult your physician, as depression requires a medical diagnosis before treatment can be administered. From there, you may be prescribed a low-dose antidepressant or you could be referred to a psychotherapist. In addition to any medical help you receive, you may want to look into other therapeutic activities to help ward off depressive thoughts or actions.

Natural Depression Management

Finding time to exercise is a great and natural way to balance the chemical activity in your brain and stimulate endorphins. It’s also important to maintain a regimented sleeping schedule and eat a regular, healthy diet. Other activities to consider include hobbies such as playing an instrument, meditation, or keeping a journal. By having an activity you enjoy, you can take some necessary time for yourself to decompress any negative thoughts or feelings you might experience. The important thing to remember is that everyone needs some personal time and respite to be a good caregiver.

The professionals at Home Care Assistance Rhode Island understand it can be hard caring for a terminally ill loved one, and if you need help we hope you’ll reach out to us. In addition to hourly and live-in care, we also offer Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Rhode Island for seniors with advanced conditions. To learn more about the care services available near you, please call (401) 284-0979 today.