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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

Managing the toll of caregiver trauma

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January 14, 2019, by CaregiverExchange.ca

Two articles published recently highlight the toll that living through traumatic events can take on family caregivers. 
 
In a Washington Post article, Jennifer Levin described how she began showing symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder after spending time in the hospital with her father, who had a fatal illness. 
 
She writes: “Because I was so focused on my dad’s health, I didn’t realize at the time how traumatic these hospital visits were, or that their memories would haunt me. After he passed, classic PTSD symptoms, which included intrusive flashbacks, being ‘dazed’ when distressed, and avoiding medical settings reminiscent of his disease, recurred for a couple of years.”
 
Earlier this month, therapist Eileen Devine wrote a post about how many of the parents with special needs whom she supports also experience trauma. 

She writes: “I don’t say this lightly, but in parenting their children whose brains work differently, each is separately living through, on a daily basis, a traumatic event. It’s no wonder that these parents frequently describe being depressed, anxious, and on-edge. It is no wonder that they might find themselves physically ill much of the time, with ailments that rarely seem to abate or resolve. It is no wonder that their sleep is disturbed or their relationships might be crumbling.”
 
Both these articles go on to describe what can be done when family caregivers find themselves in these situations.

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