Treating Caregivers of Patients
with Chronic Illness
As the patient and the family caregivers deal with the progressive impact of chronic illness on the family system, the emotional pain of the illness is often intensified by miscommunication, guilt, and regrets, resulting in both patient and caregiver feeling misunderstood, isolated and unseen.
It is common for patients to withhold information about how they are feeling because they don’t want to impose upon their caregivers. Similarly, caregivers often suppress their own feelings for fear of adding to the patient’s burden. Both the patient and caregiver may also make incorrect assumptions about what the other wants and, in the process, deny themselves the possibility of meeting important needs of their own. In addition, either, or both, may also be reluctant to discuss painful issues, including plans and fears about the future.
Working with a therapist who is knowledgeable about these complicated interactions can facilitate a communication process that enables both patient and caregiver to lighten the burden they carry.