Over-Caring for Aging Loved Ones May Be Putting Your Mental Health at Risk!

Family caregiver hugging senior loved one
Over-caring for aging loved ones could present issues for your mental health!

You cannot deliver quality caregiving services without having some empathy. The ability to put yourself in another individual’s shoes enables you to better meet their needs. But there is one particular kind of empathy that you need to understand as a caregiver in order to protect your own health and wellbeing: emotional empathy. 

Emotional empathy is the special sauce that elevates the home care experience. Instead of simply understanding how someone else is feeling, emotional empathy includes actually experiencing their feelings. For example, if you’re someone who is strongly emotionally empathetic, sitting beside a person who is crying will bring tears to your own eyes. If they are in pain, you’ll also experience distress. You make the first move when someone you care for has a need.  

Is Over-Caring for Aging Loved Ones Harmful to Caregivers? 

There is nothing wrong with having a generous amount of emotional empathy in caregiving. Yet for a family caregiver of an older loved one, it may result in mental health problems if it spills into over-caring for aging loved ones. The risks are greater if the person in your care has dementia or other cognitive problems.  

Over-caring with emotional empathy can be awfully exhausting and overwhelming. It may result in emotional burnout, which often can cause one to shut down emotionally. If it is too agonizing to care so much, you might find yourself pulling away from your loved one. 

If you think you’re dealing with heightened emotional empathy, these tips can really help:  

  • Attempt to separate your own feelings from those of the individual in your care. Your personal life experiences might be coloring how you’re responding to the other person’s situation.
  • Talk to a mental health professional to help identify whether your reaction to your family member’s condition is reason for concern.
  • Think from a perspective of curiosity. Ask the person questions regarding their experience to better understand what they’re thinking and feeling. At the same time, remind yourself not to make an effort to “fix” anything. 
  • Devote more time to listening than formulating your own response when your loved one is speaking to you. This means shutting out your own thoughts so you can focus exclusively on what they are saying. It can prevent you from making assumptions or missing important pieces of information they want to share.

JFS Care can help you offer better self-care, which will help you to better care for the aging adult you love. Our customized services include: 

  • Light housekeeping, laundry, and meal prep
  • Companionship for conversations and entertaining activities
  • Grocery shopping and other errands
  • Assistance with personal hygiene needs such as baths, showers, and getting dressed
  • Transportation and accompaniment to appointments and fun outings
  • And much more

Complete our online contact form or call us at 213-383-2273 to request a free in-home consultation to learn more about how home care services will help both you and someone you love in Burbank and the nearby areas.