Tips for Supporting Your Care Recipient’s Emotional Well-Being
The person you are caring for may be experiencing a range of complex emotions. Here are some tips you can try to help support their emotional well-being.
Talk about it
Encourage them to share their feelings with you. Let them know it’s OK to express fears and concerns about what is happening. Keep them company. Just being there can be comforting. Talk, watch movies together or listen to music. Use touch when you can’t find the words. A squeeze of the hand or a gentle hug can say a lot.
Respect their need for privacy
Coping with a critical illness sometimes means that the person you’re caring for will need some time alone to think, reflect or just take a break.
Help them practice mind-body techniques to reduce anxiety and stress
The person you are caring for may be feeling heightened anxiety and stress. Mind-body techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, yoga and tai chi can help lower their anxiety and stress levels, which in turn can help their mood and give them emotional strength to get through the tough times. Ask your family member’s healthcare team for recommended techniques and resources.
People often use massage therapy to help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. Having a massage can also help people relax and reduce their anxiety and stress. Before trying massage therapy, talk to your family member’s healthcare team to make sure it is safe for them. Look for a registered massage therapist who has experience in working with people with their condition.
Seek professional support
As much as you may feel responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of the person you are caring for, many things are beyond your control and your ability. Your family member’s healthcare team can refer you and your family member to a mental health counsellor or support program. In some cases, medication may also be recommended.
Post-traumatic stress (PTS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Sometimes after painful, life-changing events, such as being diagnosed with a chronic and/or life-threatening illness, or after a serious injury, people may experience post-traumatic stress. Symptoms vary from person to person, but generally include: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions such as trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating.
If you think the person you are caring for is experiencing symptoms of PTS or PTSD, it is important to talk to their healthcare team. There is treatment available. It may include counselling or medicine or a combination of both.
- Reach out to ConnexOntario for free health services information for people experiencing problems with mental illness, alcohol or drugs at connexontario.ca or call 1-866-531-2600. This is available 24/7.
- Contact the Kids Help Phone – visit kidshelphone.ca, call 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868. This is available 24/7 and offers support through live chat, text, and phone.
- Share your experiences and concerns with other young caregivers in our online peer support group or be part of the conversation in our online forum
Not sure where to start? Call our 24/7 helpline or talk to us in our live chat to find resources in your community.