-“Doctor, I adore my son…But taking care of him drains me—“
Verónica X. is a young mother of three children that decided to postpone her graduate studies to take care of her eldest son who has Multiple Sclerosis. This disease is one of the commonest causes of non-traumatic causes of disability of young adults in the Northern Hemisphere where it is much more prevalent than in the Southern one.
MS can manifest itself with a broad range of symptoms, including vision loss, muscular weakness of the limbs, sensory alterations, bowel or bladder dysfunction and limited mobility that can progressively worsen over time. As there are usually cycles of remissions and poussées, the caregivers are frustrated by the unpredictable health outcomes.
The MS patients need the permanent assistance of informal caregivers like the family members to remain in their homes as their functional dependence rises with the worsening of cognitive and sensory symptoms and disabilities. Those caregivers feel an emotional frustration with a lowered quality of life.
The “empathy theory” states that the human empathy-related processes are influenced by two different, and sometimes antagonistic, groups of factors:
- Motivating factors: the physical and emotional deficits of the sick.
- Inhibiting factors: the mental and mood limitations of the caregiver.
Sepideh Pooyania et al. published the results of a descriptive, cross-sectional pilot study with caregivers of non-institutionalized individuals living with MS in Canada, a country with high incidence and prevalence of the disease.They used the “POMS 2” 35 item questionnaire to capture their mood status.
Of the 55 family caregivers that responded, 23 were women; most of them were their spouses, lived with them and had done it for more than 2 years; 15 caregivers had elevated total mood scores, being highest for Fatigue-Inertia, followed by Anger-Hostility, Depression-Dejection and Anxiety.
The burden of taking care of a chronically sick person takes a heavy emotional toll on close family members,the majority of whom are women still in their prime years.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.