I was a caregiver for 13 years for one of the most important men in my life -- my father, Papa JR. Like many caregivers, I experienced the joy and the heartbreak of caring for a parent at the end of his life. It was an honor to care for him and it was a blessing to share daily life with him. But there were challenges, too.
Early in my medical training a sage family physician, Jack Medalie, reminded us students that there's often a "hidden patient whose suffering goes unnoticed." Medalie was referring to family members who may be struggling as much or even more than the person that is being directly cared for by the doctor.
If you're already experiencing emotional struggles and feeling distressed, you should promptly seek help from a primary care or mental health professional. If things are generally going well and you want to prevent or reduce the impact of potential emotional challenges, here are some tips for coping: