Caring for Caregivers

“Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness”

– Harold Kushner, Rabbi

Tending to an ailing loved one, as rewarding as it may be, is a lifelong commitment. The tasks of a caregiver are nothing short of exorbitant: from looking after the patient’s everyday needs to doling out medications and making regular visits to the psychologist/psychiatrist, the host of responsibilities are endless.More often than not this ‘job’ easily goes on for at least 15 hours every day. In such a crunch of a situation, caregivers tend to suffer from feelings of helplessness, frustration, anxiety and even depression. It is therefore, imperative to recognize the significant role they play in the treatment process and help them lead their lives independently in a positive manner.

The Department of Psychology organized an interactive session with Dr Raman Deep Pattanayak on the 17th of March which took place in Laboratory 2 to discuss about the ‘Care-giving Aspect in Context of Psychiatric Patients’. Dr Raman Deep Pattanayak is currently working as an Associate Professor with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. She is a practicing Psychiatric with child and adolescent disorders, cognitive endophenotypes, care giving and family research being her core areas of interest. She has been felicitated with numerous awards and fellowships such as Alzheimer’s Association’s Travel Fellowship, 2009; Rafelsen’s Young Investigator Travel Award, 2011, to name a few.

Dr Raman Deep talked us through the presentation, starting with giving a deep understanding of what caregiving truly is and especially how tough the ‘job’ gets when the patient is suffering from a psychological illness. The discussion was centered on the difficulties faced by caregivers and attempts to allay them. In the midst of looking after a patient, caregivers often go through the guilt of saving time for themselves, the guilt of being selfish, to ‘escape’ from the routine to look after someone constantly. It is essential for them to be reminded that these feelings are normal and to a certain degree needed in order to lead a more functional life. Caregivers need to spend a stipulated amount of time everyday engaging in activities that they enjoy and meeting other people too. In fact, they are encouraged to work outside. In the absence of all this, they are likely to suffer from a sense of loss of identity. Additionally, caregivers are constantly financially burdened. To make matters worse, India faces an acute paucity of psychiatric centers and facilities to treat patients, let alone the caregivers.

The session culminated with an intense question and answer round with eager students bombarding the Doctor with numerous questions, followed by the presentation of a sapling from the Department as a token of appreciation. The audience came out enriched and much wiser.

Reported By – Arushi Sharma

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