The Strain of Care

Jan 16 2019

Families have cared for family members (aging parents, spouses, adult children, grandchildren, etc.) in the past, families care today, and God help us if they don’t care tomorrow.  The problem I see is not one of abandonment.  Rather the major problem is the emotional press of wanting to provide all that one can while having only limited resources.  Every caregiver at some time faces limited time, limited finances, limited patience, limited acceptance, and limited knowledge and – most of all- limited support for the caregiving role.  Who genuinely understands the plight of the caregiver, much less is ready to render assistance to her/him? 

Numerous studies have researched the strain on caregivers and upon the care receiver.  In every case, caregivers have been found to struggle tremendously.  In most cases this struggle is internal, shared with very few others outside of one’s spouse and perhaps one’s physician.  These studies confirm, among other things, that caregivers are more at risk for ill health than are noncaregivers. 

In a California-based study, Victor Cicerrelli reported that 27 percent of the caregivers in the sample were emotionally exhausted as a direct consequence of their caregiving role.  Fully 30% registered begin physically worn-out by caregiving and 75% claimed to suffer from significant negative feelings toward their care receiver.  I’m inclined to believe that the other 25% were simply blocking or denying negative feelings.  As you can see the caregiver role is a stressful one indeed. 

To confirm such findings, I decided to perform my own investigation.  I devised the Strain of Care Inventory to uncover the level and content of the stress that caregivers feel.   The results of the Strain of Care Inventory are found on page 17-26 of my book Caring for Aging Parents available on Amazon. 

THE STRAIN-OF-CARE INVENTORY 

DIRECTIONS:  Circle the number below each statement or question which conveys best how you feel about your dealings with the person for whom you care, whether this person is your aging parent, spouse or someone else.  Where comments are requested, please be as concise but as accurate as you can. 

 

  1. What are the strongest positive emotions that you feel toward the person for whom you care?

________________________________________________________________

  1. To what degree do you normally feel these positive feelings?

1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8           9            10 

Low degree                                                                                            high degree

 

  1. What are the strongest negative emotions that you feel toward the person for whom you care?

 

________________________________________________________________

  1. To what degree do you normally feel these negative emotions?

     1            2            3             4            5           6            7           8          9    10      

Low degree                                                                                            high degree

           

  1. What percentage of the time you spend with the one you care for do your positive emotions outweigh your negative emotions? ______% 
  1. What percentage of the time you spend with the one you care for do your negative emotions outweigh your positive emotions? ______% 
  1. To what degree have you felt yourself withdraw from the one you care for due to any negative emotions?

1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8           9            10 

Low degree                                                                                            high degree

  1. To what degree has tension emerged in your family as a consequence of the care you give to the person for whom you care?

1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8            9            10

Low degree                                                                                           high degree

 9. To what degree does the person for whom you care neglect you?

1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8            9        10   Low degree                                                                                            high degree

 10. Specifically, what might this neglect entail?

______________________________________________________________

 11.  To what degree might you neglect the person for whom you care?

1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8            9         10 

Low degree                                                                                            high degree

 12.  Specifically, what might this neglect entail?______________________________________________________________

13.  To what degree has dealing with the person for whom you care affected your health negatively?

 1            2            3             4            5           6            7            8            9        10   Low degree                                                                                      high degree

 14. What do you do to deal with the “strain of care” you feel as a result of dealing with the one for whom you care?_______________________________________________________________

 

Until next time,

Stay light and be bright,

Richard P Johnson, PhD

 



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