Factors Influencing Emotional Acceptance
What are the many factors that influence the emotional acceptance of a caregiver to their new role? Among those influences is whatever caused them to become a caregiver in the first place.
Emotions have a powerful influence on how an individual perceives their environment and their circumstances. They shape a person’s behavior, understanding, and sometimes memories of an event. Whether someone emotionally accepts or rejects, events impact learning and adjustment. Caregivers who cannot move beyond the initial shock phase to emotional acceptance may need a mental health professional’s assistance to help make the transition possible.
When a person faces a grave medical situation, perhaps life-threatening and without warning, their body often protects itself by going into shock. However, regardless of shock, decisions must happen, and the caregiver may be the only one available to make them. At that point, it’s official. They are now the primary caregiver.
Without any preparation, the new caregiver starts making decisions and interpreting information. As a result, they get little sleep, feel emotionally unstable, and have difficulty thinking clearly until the crisis is over. However, they must make dozens of decisions during this time and remember a large amount of vital information. In addition, as the crisis evolves, the caregiver receives updates on events; some are only shared once. As a result, it’s easy to get details confused since they are sleep-deprived and unfamiliar with the jargon.
Finally, the day of discharge arrives, and a print-out of instructions is provided to the caregiver explaining what to do once they get home. Only days may have separated discharge from intensive care status, but the caregiver is now alone with only a few sheets of paper to guide them. The caregiver is afraid of what might be in their future.
Chronic (Long Term) Events
If the circumstances leading to someone being a caregiver are such that they occur over months and years, emotional acceptance is easier to achieve. They see the train heading their way, have time to prepare, and research what to do. Being able to prepare can make a difference. The caregiver and care recipient has time to plan and identify participation triggers for the caregiver. In this manner, there can be a staged progression of intervention. Virginia ranks 42nd in the country for the prevalence of mental illness in the United States but has lower access to care. That means that caregivers who have family members with mental health conditions find it almost impossible to obtain assistance, and the burden of care falls heavily onto their shoulders. (Mental Health in America – Adult Data)
Caregivers also inherit the role of a family member dies who was the caregiver for a disabled member. The new caregiver becomes the designed family replacement based on their birth position (oldest child and, therefore, heir to the responsibility). Various emotions may show up in such cases depending on the individual’s hopes for the future and their feelings about the family’s expectations for giving up their life’s dreams. The new caregiver may feel resentment, resignation, emotional acceptance, or a combination.