Being a caregiver for a loved one with LGS is a commitment unlike any other. Caregiving requires limitless amounts of energy, empathy, and patience. While most caregivers will tell you that taking care of a loved one is a genuinely rewarding experience, it does come with a set of unique challenges. The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person.
Care for the Caregiver
In coming to terms with a diagnosis of LGS, parents and caregivers may experience:
- Shock, denial, and disbelief
- Anger and rage
- Stress and depression
- Grief and fear – for your loved one or for the family as a whole
- Acceptance and adjustment – the realization that a lot can be done to improve the situation
- Fight and hope – the optimism that comes from dealing with challenges and seeing positive progress in your loved one. Your culture and your religion or beliefs background also may be a source of support for you at this time.
Following a loved one’s diagnosis, it is important for caregivers to talk about feelings and emotions with trusted people. They can be supported by family, friends, professionals, or other caregivers in the same situation. Managing the daily care of your loved one is very demanding. It can have an impact on your relationships with your partner, other family members, and friends.
Stress & Family Adjustment in LGS
Katherine Junger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, discusses the traumatic stress within the epilepsy community. Junger gives a detailed look into the signs and symptoms of caregiver fatigue, what to look for, and strategies to care for the caregiver.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering.
Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired often
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Gaining or losing weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling sad
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Taking Care of the Whole Family
Hear from Caregivers and Family Members about What it is Like Living with LGS:
Warning: Video content from a caregiver perspective, unedited and raw. Please know that content may trigger an unexpected emotional response.
There are many things you can do to cope with stress:
- Take a break to recharge yourself or ask for help.
- Give yourself time each day — 10 minutes or more — to do something you like.
- Set a limit on how much time you will spend looking or reading through the large quantity of information available to you.
- Don’t feel you have to handle everything at one time.
- Tell your loved one’s doctor how you are doing. Ask him or her to help you focus on what is most important.
- Share your feelings with your family, friends, other parents, doctors, and nurses.
If you feel that you have reached a real crisis point, it may help to:
- Join a local support group or spend time with other caregivers who have loved ones with additional needs. They may have found ways of dealing with issues that you find particularly stressful.
- Call a support line. Many voluntary organizations provide a free helpline to assist you in getting through difficult times.
- Contact your doctor, who may provide contact details for your local counseling service.
Updated August 1, 2022