Caregiver Anger and Resentment – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 84 May 5, 2021, On this caregiver program, host Pamela D Wilson talks about how caregiver anger and resentment can erode the self-esteem and confidence of caregivers who ask how to deal with feeling unappreciated. An interview with a couple dealing with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease offers insights into changing and adapting to be a caregiver and the care receiver.
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How to Deal With Caregiver Resentment and Anger
0:00:04.0 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
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0:00:37:43 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, elder care consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.
0:1:07:61 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your loved ones, family, and friends to listen to the show each week. This week we are talking about caregiver anger and resentment and the experiences of caregivers and aging adults in care relationships. I’ll share an interview with a married couple, John and Betsy, who share Their experience with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55 and how this changed their lives.
01:50:21 Pamela D Wilson: John shares his experience of becoming forgetful and how the condition has affected his ability to socialize. Let’s begin by talking about various situations that can lead to caregiver anger and resentment that caregivers have shared to see if you are experiencing similarities in your care situations. Many caregivers with time, care for a spouse or aging parent who becomes totally dependent on the caregiver due to physical health issues, multiple health diagnoses, or memory loss. In these situations, the care receiver may have more days of feeling bad than good. Not feeling well or being in constant pain can make anyone angry.
02:41:40 Pamela D Wilson: When a person suffers from pain for an extended period of time the pain can affect the mood, relationships and result in depression. Being in pain can affect motivation to engage in healthy behaviors. Some people in pain experience apathy and give up. Others may be angry or feel stuck because of more incredible difficulty doing the things they used to do easily. If you are the caregiver of a spouse, parent, or another family member who experiences the effect of chronic illness or pain, you may feel angry or resentful.
03:26:10 Pamela D Wilson: When we think of feelings associated with anger and resentment, we may have fear about the present and the future, sadness about losing physical or mental abilities, grief about the significance of life changes, and guilt about feelings and shame. In these situations, the caregiver and the care receiver can experience similar behaviors but revert to anger or resentment to hide feelings because talking about the problem may be uncomfortable.
04:05:59 Pamela D Wilson: Feelings of negativity, anger, and resentment can drive friends and family members away. Being around a constantly negative or verbally abusive person is exhausting and can make caregivers feel devalued for their efforts. If you are the caregiver, you may feel that you had a close relationship with a spouse or parent before caregiving responsibilities rose to the current level. Today you can barely tolerate being around mom, dad, or a spouse even though you show up every day to provide care.
04:49:39 Pamela D Wilson: Depending on the level of caregiver anger or resentment you experience, you may find yourself wishing that the person you care for was dead. At least with the death of the care receiver, the caregiver would be relieved from the burdens of the present situation and move on with life. If you feel this way, your feelings are valid even though you may feel guilty for wishing a parent or a spouse were dead.
05:19:65 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiver anger and resentment can feel oppressive until emotional insights are gained to recognize the feelings when they happen, pause, and intentionally shift mental gears. Caregivers who want to be helpful and liked avoid bringing up minor problems that turn into mountains when put on the back burner. When we are young, parents model behaviors of resolving disagreements or conflicts within the family.
05:54:17 Pamela D Wilson: Examples set by our parents remain with us as we grow into adulthood. If we are fortunate, life experiences at school or in the workplace give us the tools to learn how to discuss and resolve differences in a positive manner. Ignoring minor problems because we feel like we will be starting a fight usually means that we hold in our feelings until one day we reach a boiling point and say things far beyond what we might have if we talked about the issue when it first began.
06:35:53 Pamela D Wilson: In other caregiver anger and resentment situations, the first impulse may be verbally snapping back or becoming silent. If you take a moment to let your brain catch up with your emotions, you can think about why you feel the way you do. This allows you to explain the feelings unemotionally and talk about the effect on you and the care receiver. You can express your feelings and keep the door open for further conversations.
07:11:81 Pamela D Wilson: An example of a conversation might be, “I know you don’t do things just to make me mad, but this THING (name it whatever it is) bothers me. How can we work this out so that neither you nor I are feeling frustrated?” As you do this, monitor your words and the tone of your voice very carefully. Find a way to express your feelings in a way that is not hurtful. Talk about one issue at a time. No piling on one problem after the other or something that happened 20 years ago.
07:53:54 Pamela D Wilson: Remove blame. Don’t make comparisons. Each person in the caregiving relationship contributes to the situation. Asking a parent what he or she is so angry about can open the door to ongoing discussions. Many caregivers share stories of parents purposely negatively talking to other family members about the caregiver so that the caregiver can hear that the parent is angry. Talking behind anyone’s back is disrespectful.
08:30:76 Pamela D Wilson: The best way to resolve a situation is to talk to the person you are angry with directly rather than talking to others who might take sides. Indirect conversations are called triangulation. Triangulation is the idea of two against one. It can be a behavior pattern of any person who has not learned how to resolve conflict positively. If you are the caregiver, sharing feelings in a caregiver support group can help you feel less alone.
09:06:74 Pamela D Wilson: Venting can be positive if you learn from the experiences of other caregivers and try different options to resolve the situation. Complaining for the sake of complaining may result in heightened feelings of caregiver anger and resentment that make caregivers feel more hopeless and helpless about how to resolve the situation. When we feel anxious, our minds can run rampant with one worry after another.
09:36:25 Pamela D Wilson: Other experiences that indicate feelings of caregiver overwhelm or caregiver anger and resentment include: having difficulty making decisions because something terrible may happen with either choice, a racing mind with an inability to focus, forgetting details or information, reliving memories of distressing situations, arguments that quickly veer out of control, having a lack of patience, tense muscles, and a lack of sleep.
10:14:75 Pamela D Wilson: Even if you are not a caregiver, you might experience many of these feelings in your day-to-day activities. Care receivers have many of the same sentiments because they are vulnerable and need help from others. While caregivers can benefit from support or recommendations, most prefer to do it all independently—caregivers refuse to seek help. Care receivers do not have this option—they need and they must accept help. Imagine if you’re a caregiver how you might feel in this out-of-control situation.
10:54:05 Pamela D Wilson: When you are older and you need help, you will know what it was like for your parent or a spouse. Why not ask them today how it feels so that you know? How do we keep moving forward to resolve anger and resentment? The first step is gaining insight to notice when our feelings are going off track or when we begin to feel out of control. It’s that feeling of wanting to scream, explode, or yell. Pay close attention and immediately press the pause button.
11:31:87 Pamela D Wilson: Find an activity that helps you mentally shift gears. Positive examples might be talking a short walk and counting your steps. Count backward from 100 or forward in increments of 3 or 5. One, three, six, nine. Like that. Recite a poem, a prayer, or a saying that makes you feel happy until you feel your feelings calm down. Think of a friend who makes you feel positive. Visualize and describe one of your favorite places and why you like this place.
11:11:70 Pamela D Wilson: The goal of mentally shifting gears when emotions rise is to allow the brain to catch up with our emotions so that we can think clearly and return to a place of feeling calm. This activity will enable us to regain our composure to think about what happened and how we contributed. We’ll continue to talk about caregiver anger and resentment after this break.
12:40:20 Pamela D Wilson: If your caregiving situation feels out of control another positive way to reduce caregiver anger and resentment is to create a care plan with options, whether this is for yourself, a spouse, aging parent, or grandparent. I can help. Visit my website www.PamelaDWilson.com, click on the how I help button, then Family Caregiver Support, then Elder Care Consultant to contact me. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, elder care consultant, and speaker. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.
13:46:77 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com to check out my caregiver library, videos, podcasts, and transcripts from The Caring Generation, online eldercare courses, my book The
14:16:95 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving Trap, and information for how I support caregivers, groups, and corporations. To continue with the subject of caregiver anger and resentment and feeling out of control, I’d like to introduce you to Betsy and John. They share their story of John being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55 and how this is changing their lives.
0:14:45:11 Pamela D Wilson: Betsy, when you first heard about John’s diagnosis, did you know anything about Alzheimer’s?
0:14:50:74 Betsy: I did because John’s mother had it, and so I was familiar of the disease through John and was aware of the impact that that had for us.
0:15:04:78 Pamela D Wilson: And John, can I flip that to you? When you first found out how did you feel?
0:15:11:82 John: About my diagnosis, I was pretty freaked out. Obviously, I knew it was in my family. My mother’s father had it. All three of my mom’s generation had it. So I kind of figured, well, I’d have to deal with is someday but I assumed it would show up in my mid-seventies like it has for all of my mom’s generation. Instead of showing up at age fifty-five.
0:15:38:88 Pamela D Wilson: Oh my goodness, and how old are you now?
0:14:43:79 John: Ah, fifty-eight.
0:14:45:02 Pamela D Wilson: Fifty-eight, okay. Were there any signs that either of you noticed of forgetfulness before the diagnosis?
0:15:51:00 Betsy: I certainly started to see some change in behavior for John. You could see he was struggling with words. He was having to try to keep control of details, and track of them. And I found that he was constantly repeating himself as if he had created a checklist to try to remember he had told me something or had shared some information. And it was very unlike John to do that and have to question himself and repeat himself in such a manner. So, I was aware of that and just didn’t really put it together that it was Alzheimer’s at that point. John?
0:16:32:70 John: The thing that really got it in my face was I was on an international business trip. Stumbled across a guy that worked for the company that my firm has just bought and we were visiting over dinner and it turned out we were both in Dallas at the same time. Further on we both worked at Texas Instruments at the same time and further on we both worked in the same division. Further on we both worked for the same V.P. and I knew quite about his project, he knew quite a bit about my project but we really didn’t remember meeting each other. He sat down at my table for breakfast the next morning and I looked up and didn’t recognize him. I stuck out my hand and introduced myself and the guy was pretty freaked out because we’d spent two and one-half hours yucking it up over our mutual experiences at Texas Instruments in Dallas.
0:17:28:84 Pamela D Wilson: How old was your mom when she was diagnosed?
0:17:34:63 John: She was in her mid-seventies. We saw things changing in mom in her early seventies but it got to a point where she went to a neurologist and got evaluated and all the other things ruled out and that was the bottom line. Indeed the way she was losing capability was in the classic Alzheimer’s form in that you lose what’s most recent. Somebody gives you a document and tells you what it is and what to do with it and you turn around a minute later and say, now what is this and what am I supposed to do with it?
0:18:14:35 John: But she could talk about things when we were kids with great clarity and accuracy. Time went on and she started losing how we, what she knew about us as kids and we started becoming strangers to her. And it’s that progress of undoing your memories from the most current to your oldest memories is really a very strong hallmark of the disease process. Alzheimer’s is basically a death sentence. Nobody survives it. You may die of something else first.
0:18:52:90 John: But just like your brain becomes incompetent as far as your personality and such the autonomic systems ultimately become incompetent and you can’t swallow properly and you usually ingest something and die of pneumonia as the end-stage. Or you die of something else along the way. My mother, I call it, got an early out because she developed a leukemic condition that destroyed her white blood cell count so she caught a simple cold and died from that. My uncle, in a fairly late stage, had a heart attack and died from that. My grandfather didn’t develop any physical illness and he basically died when he could no longer swallow properly and stuff like that of pneumonia.
0:19:48:29 John: Probably for me, the fundamental thread throughout my entire life has been my community service activities. I was a volunteer firefighter. I was a volunteer EMT, an emergency medical technician. I served on my county planning commission for seven and a half years. I served on the fireboard. I served on the conservation district board. I was very active and very involved in the community. And unfortunately, the disease has taken almost all of that away from me. I can’t deal with firefighting stuff because I can’t reliably communicate to other people what’s going on on the scene of a fire. So I had to resign from that.
0:20:37:82 John: I found that under the stress and all of dealing with the medical trauma and such I had a very hard time communicating to the paramedic when he’d show up everything that I had checked and found and what he needed to be aware of with a patient. So I had to quit doing that. When you volunteer in those types of services, it’s very much a family thing. So I ended up resigning from the fireboard because I couldn’t deal with the emotions of not being able to do everything I had done previously with that group of people. One of the few things I did keep was my rotary membership. But everybody in rotary wears a name tag, usually around their neck up pretty high, so it’s easy to glance and get the name.
0:21:27:55 John: I have a hard time out in public recognizing people and knowing who they were or are to me. Somebody gives me their name I remember who they are from their name but I can’t recognize them out in the open like that so for me I tend not to do much shopping in Woodland Park. I’ll almost always drive down Ute Pass and do my shopping in Colorado Springs where I rarely run into anybody that knows me down there. So there’s major things it’s really done to us. Rotary supports the Salvation Army by ringing the bell between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I just get totally weirded out when I’m ringing the bell and all these people walk up and start talking to me like I obviously know who they are and I just don’t deal with that very well at all. It would be nice if I could just smile and say, “well that’s nice, what’s been going on in your life?” But I just, I get freaked out at this point.
0:22:29:63 Betsy: You know you have to learn to live with it. John has fortunately moved slowly in the disease. But you don’t know when you have a discussion what’s going to be remembered and what’s not. And what agreement you have or plan you have is remembered or not. And then you can go days when everything seems normal and then all of a sudden it’s like oh we lost that whole period of time and discussion or plan or activity that we were going to do and you have to be able to just sort of go with the flow to be able to make that work well. Because the disease takes control there’s nothing you can do about it other than recognize it for what it is and smile and repeat and go on. So it’s been a learning process for me certainly have had to change my life and my lifestyle and look at how that fits. And I know we’ve got a tough road ahead so it’s one that you take a day at a time.
0:23:36:37 Pamela D Wilson: As you heard in my interview with John and Besty, having a caregiving plan, understanding the options, and knowing what can happen offers peace of mind for caregivers and care receivers. Feeling out of control with worry about what might happen next only adds more stress to an already stressful situation Join me every Wednesday for The Caring Generation. The show is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide listen. Install the podcast app on your cellphone Apple, Google, Spreaker, and other sites. Add it to the cell phone of grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues. Encourage them to listen each week to learn more about health, aging, and caregiving. This is Pamela Wilson on The Caring Generation, stay with me; I’ll be right back.
0:25:06:25 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and elder care consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are looking for hope, help, or support for an aging or caregiving challenge, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com and take my caregiver survey or contact me. Follow me on social media. On Facebook, I’m @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert, on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In @pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert
0:25:39:87 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk more about caregiver anger and resentment concerning frustration. Caregivers who are responsible for coordinating care for aging parents or a spouse can feel overwhelmed by all of the details. Many caregivers feel like they are putting forth a lot of effort, getting the run around from healthcare providers, or not getting the correct answers. If you are in this position, the problem may be that you are not asking the right questions or don’t fully understand the issue or problem you are trying to solve.
0:26:18:16 Pamela D Wilson: If you are working with the healthcare system, there are many constraints that providers experience related to health insurance, home health care, nursing home regulations, and hospital regulations. If you don’t understand the other side, you may not be asking the right questions and instead, you’re feeling frustrated and emotional because you can’t get the help you want. On this topic, let’s talk about the emotions related to caregiving. Some caregivers I talk to see a therapist to manage emotional concerns.
0:26:57:82 Pamela D Wilson: If you are seeing a therapist, it is a positive step to take if you have a shared expectation for the outcome of the sessions. On the other hand, caregivers tell me that they have seen a therapist and got nowhere. Part of making progress or feeling that you are getting nowhere begins with defining expectations. A mental health counselor is a specialist in mental health and managing emotions. If this help in managing emotion is the help you want, a therapist or counselor may be a good match for you.
0:27:38:38 Pamela D Wilson: However, if you are looking for a counselor to give you options about caregiving, medical care, choosing a nursing home, Medicaid, or making medical decisions, and you’re seeing a mental health therapist you may be expecting too much. Just as you wouldn’t make an appointment to see a car mechanic to talk about medical issues or an appointment with a gardener to talk about how to set up or manage a business. You go to specific people for advice about their specialties and have a conversation about the outcomes or goals that you want or expect.
0:28:21:21 Pamela D Wilson: Any service provider should ask you about your goals and expectations. If they don’t, this is a warning sign that you may end up dissatisfied. It’s also your responsibility to be clear about your expectations—again, to avoid disappointment. Transferring this idea to the role and responsibility of caregiving. Unless your parents or a spouse have made a plan for their care and discussed this plan with you. For better or worse, the responsibility of planning and discussing options falls on you, the caregiver.
0:29:01:45 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiver anger and resentment result when a care situation moves into a position where the caregiver feels he or she has given up everything to care for a loved one without talking about or planning for care needs. If you listened to the interview with John and Betsy about his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55—you hear the concerns expressed by John and Betsy about how they are adapting to the changes resulting from the diagnosis.
0:29:38:74 Pamela D Wilson: The positive aspect is that John and Betsy are aware of what can happen and the care needs that John will have. Because of John’s experience with his mother and other family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he is very aware of how the disease progresses. Having this knowledge—while John’s future may be uncomfortable to discuss—it allows John and Betsy to make plans for John’s care when Betsy may not be able to provide all of John’s care. Initiating this discussion and creating a care plan is beneficial for all family caregiving situations so that the caregiver does not eventually find him or herself in an unsustainable or unworkable situation of care.
0:30:34:45 Pamela D Wilson: How many of you listening are finding yourself today in this type of situation? Let’s talk a moment about critical thinking and problem-solving. These skills are beneficial to resolving caregiver anger and resentment when a care situation has gone too far. As the caregiver, you have a responsibility to care for yourself if you wish to continue to be healthy enough to care for others. But—many caregivers find themselves in a situation where they are constantly criticized or second-guessed by the care receiver – mom, dad, husband, wife—or other family members.
0:31:19:23 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers may feel like it’s me versus the world because no one is helping or offering us support. As a caregiver do you prefer spending time with a pet, versus a parent or a spouse because your pet seems to understand. Is excited to see you, and offers unconditional love. An important part of initiating change in a care situation that isn’t working is to identify the problem and then what that means. Does the problem relate to health issues, money, family support, a lack of information, decision-making, actions by the caregiver or the care receiver? What aspect is affecting the problem?
0:32:13:22 Pamela D Wilson: Critical thinking and problem-solving can be difficult because we, the caregiver, may have to admit that we contributed to the problem by being too helpful, taking on too much work, not speaking up when we feel unappreciated, not setting boundaries for our own self-care. If this is your situation—don’t feel bad. You didn’t know that caregiving for an aging parent or a spouse would turn out like this. You have no prior experience to set off warning bells that said caution—dangerous curves ahead, slippery road ahead, road damage, caution, caution, caution!
0:33:02:10 Pamela D Wilson: But now you’re here. Here’s another insight into feelings of caregiver anger and resentment. Caregivers that I talk to tell me that they can handle it, that it’s not that bad. And then six months later or a year later, they call me and say, “Pamela, I can’t handle it anymore. It wasn’t that bad last time I talked to you. But now it’s terrible.” If you are in the pre-anger or pre-resentment stage where you are feeling taken advantage of, not appreciated, and that caregiving is approaching that doing too much point—do not wait. Press the pause button and start to develop a care plan with options to discuss with your care receiver.
33:57:96: Pamela D Wilson: If you need a little direction about how to develop a care plan or knowing what questions you should be asking, contact me through my website PamelaDWilson.com. Go to the How I Help page or find my eldercare consultation page and send me a message. Do you know why it’s best NOT to wait? Many reasons. Figuring out the problem and looking at alternatives and options may take several months to investigate. You may be too tired or too exhausted to commit the time to make a plan. You may struggle with how you contribute to the situation and not know how to stop being too helpful or stop doing too much. I can help you with that.
0:34:48:80 Pamela D Wilson: Regaining balance in a caregiving situation means that one person—usually the caregiver—has to initially willingly shift patterns about how you think about the situation. Possibly shift how you respond, including your behaviors, your tone of voice, and your physical actions. These shifts do not happen overnight. If you wait until your battery is burned out—you will have little or no energy left to make mental and physical shifts. Caregiving is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. Athletes train for marathons.
0:35:33:77 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers benefit from training for the long haul of being a caregiver. If you want to be at the top of your game, or at least good at something, what does it take? The effort, commitment, self-motivation, willingness to learn, willingness to do things you might be afraid of are something to consider Reducing caregiver anger and resentment involves that mental shift to become equally concerned about the well-being of a parent or spouse and your own well-being. When you think about it, caregivers contribute to the self-care activities of care receivers or at least they try.
0:36:21:14 Pamela D Wilson: If you, as a caregiver, are not in a routine of action on self-care tips for yourself, how good will you be at modeling this behavior or motivating a parent to take action about a health issue? This is an important question that I’ll leave you to think about. Committing time to your well-being is challenging for caregivers who willingly sacrifice life to be a caregiver for another person and then feel caregiver anger and resentment. The first action to take is to put yourself in place to think about investigating options and creating a care plan. This means time alone.
0:37:07:29 Pamela D Wilson: It’s the idea of being unavailable every single day for a while and on some days being unavailable for longer periods of time. I know you’re thinking—this isn’t possible. It is if you make it a priority. Caregivers need you time to recharge physical, mental, and emotional batteries. If you don’t create time when you are unavailable, it will be difficult for you to gain the insights needed to shift the care situation. You’ll burn out. Your battery will die. Thinking about time for you may be difficult for caregivers raised with a strong sense of family responsibility above everything else, including self.
0:37:57:05 Pamela D Wilson: This includes caretakers who have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility about their role in helping family members. Some caretakers take on the physical and emotional suffering of others and then become physically ill, have a desire to self isolate, maybe abuse substances to cope and get through the day. If you are a caregiver in this situation—ask yourself, how is this working out for you? Is being a caregiver helping you or harming you? If you’re exhausted—burned out—are you helping or hurting others?
0:38:42:71 Pamela D Wilson: Many caregiving situations can be positive. In these, caregivers gain confidence about learning new skills, feel valued and appreciated by the person for whom you care. The relationship with a loved one in positive situations improves. These are the ideal care situations—the care situation that many caregivers want and dream of. If this isn’t your situation, why not? No one can begin to answer that question but you. What will you do to starting being unavailable every day to give you time to think, figure out what the problem is and plan to shift away from caregiver anger and resentment?
0:39:33:30 Pamela D Wilson: After this break, we will talk about self-reliance as an antidote to experiencing caregiver anger and resentment. If you are a caregiver, how can you become more self-reliant so that you create your aging life plan rather than leaving this up to your children or someone else? If you are an older adult, what things can you do today to remain self-reliant and independent? I don’t know many older adults who tell me that they can’t wait for the day when they become dependent on someone else for their needs. Thinking about becoming self-reliant it won’t make it happen—only you can make it happen. We’re off to a break.
0:40:24:24 Pamela D Wilson: If your caregiving situation feels out of control, a positive way to reduce caregiver anger and resentment is to create a care plan with options. Visit my website www.PamelaDWilson.com, click on the how I help button, then Family Caregiver Support, then Elder Care Consultant to contact me and discuss options. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, elder care consultant, and speaker. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.
0:41:21:06 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation. Listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts and the show transcripts on my website at PamelaDWilson.com and all of your favorite podcast apps: Apple, Google, Spreaker, Podcast Addict, Pandora, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Podchaser, Jio Saavn, Vurbl, and More. Add the podcast app for the Caring Generation show to the cellphone of elderly parents, in-laws, family members, and friends. Helpful information about caregiving and aging and health is on my website and in my book The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes at PamelaDWilson.com.
0:42:09:10 Pamela D Wilson: We are about to talk about questions related to – Feeling Frustrated? Not getting the right answers? Try asking the right questions. Knowing some of these questions may have answers that you may not like. Let’s talk about self-reliance. What is it, and how do we get it? Self-reliance is gaining the quality of depending on yourself instead of relying on others. Actions of self-reliance include holding down a job, managing money, becoming knowledgeable about health and well-being, learning to cook, buying and maintaining a house, living independently when you’re 80 years old.
0:42:55:22 Pamela D Wilson: That list goes on. Self-reliance also means accepting ourselves as the way we are and being our own best friend and a champion of our efforts. When we think of caregiving relationships filled with anger and resentment, ask yourself, does it seem that these are oppositive situations of accepting ourselves, being our own best friend and our own champion? Does a caregiving relationship that is upside down, lopsided or uneven make caregivers question their self-worth and value?
0:43:36:84 Pamela D Wilson: I talk to many caregivers who feel that they are not good people if they think about their own needs or if the caregiver’s needs are placed equally or above that of a parent or a spouse. Who is to say what’s right in these situations? Only you know. Caregivers feel alone, isolated, and depressed. Some caregivers tell me they consider suicide. Each person in a care relationship has to decide upon their level of participation. The best relationships are balanced with open discussions about concerns and plans. Another part of being self-reliant is to be confident. Confidence and motivation to help others are eroded in caregiving situations when caregivers feel undervalued and underappreciated. Think back to your childhood.
0:44:37:34 Pamela D Wilson: Did your parents encourage your interests and activities, or were they discouraging or critical? When parents are encouraging and supportive, children gain confidence and feel motivated to do more. Just the opposite, when parents are not supportive but critical, children lose confidence and may tend to self-isolate because they feel bad about themselves. Now, I will say children can overcome situations of being encouraged too much or not being encouraged enough by parents through their own life experiences.
0:45:16:45 Pamela D Wilson: Having these experiences early on life doesn’t always mean that we carry them into adulthood. I can say that caregivers who are happy, healthy, and feel supported provide better care for loved ones. This is the ideal situation. These childhood experiences of encouragement or discouragement translate to caregiving when elderly parents who may have multiple illnesses or be in daily pain express anger and criticism to the caregiver, who shows up but who may not do his or her best because of feeling emotionally conflicted.
0:46:00:49 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving can be a love—hate relationship. When we look at confidence as part of being self-reliant about health, this includes decision-making. How many caregivers feel that you can make decisions independently of a parent who fully depends on your time and attention? What do you think? Not many because in many cases, while the parent or spouse needs help, plus the parent or spouse has to participate and agree to the help provided by the caregiver.
0:46:40:42 Pamela D Wilson: This places caregivers in an unstable situation of wanting to help but having a parent resist or refuse help. What happens then? The parent may blame the caregiver for their health issues and the situation. If we’re honest and we’ve been a caregiver, there are days when a good cry and feeling a little mopey about our situation does us good. But we can’t stay in this mode forever. Moving past the tears requires choosing a direction and taking steps to move forward.
0:47:18:87 Pamela D Wilson: No situation will improve overnight. No shining knight is coming on a white horse to rescue us, or fairy dust from heaven to magically fix all of our concerns. This is why procrastinating – waiting until caregiver anger, and resentment has taken over life is not a good idea. Recognize where you’re stuck. Make a plan to get unstuck. Know that it may take multiple attempts, weeks, months, a year or years to see progress depending on your situation. Every situation is different. My recommendation. Get moving, keep going, and don’t give up.
0:48:10:11 Pamela D Wilson: If you need a little direction and help contact me. Let’s do a little push back here for caregivers who feel powerless but responsible for improving the care or health situation of a parent or a spouse. If you are an aging adult or the parent who needs care and you’re mentally capable, how confident are you that you know what you should be doing to manage your health diagnosis? Do you know what you should be doing every day, for example, to manage heart failure or diabetes?
0:48:44:95 Pamela D Wilson: Do you know the signs that indicate heart or diabetes symptoms are improving or getting worse? Do you know what to do to relieve worsening symptoms? If not—why not? Whose responsibility is it to know and seek education about managing your health if you are the person with the health diagnosis? If you can’t or are unwilling to be self-sufficient to take action when if ever, is it your child or spouses’ responsibility to do this for you?
0:49:28:04 Pamela D Wilson: Why should your spouse or child be adversely affected by your lack of interest, lack of responsibility, or desire not to take action? Is this question of “who adds or takes away from the problem” the magical part of defining why caregiver anger and resentment occurs? Staying away from the idea of blaming anyone, what if we focus on what contributes to the problem and then look at alternatives and options?
0:50:05:40 Pamela D Wilson: The idea of contributing or not— relates to the idea of choice. While some caregivers say that they don’t have a choice but to care for parents—is this true or false? You really don’t have a choice? If a parent chooses not to follow a doctor’s recommendations to care for him or herself, should the consequences of this choice fall on other people—like the caregiver—or should the parent who refuses and makes that choice bear the consequences?
0:50:46:23 Pamela D Wilson: None of these are easy questions to answer which is why managing caregiver anger and resentment can be so complicated. When we think about being self-sufficient, we Include the idea of self-determination. Which is each person’s right to make good or bad decisions or something in the middle. Self-determination is the idea of assuming responsibility for our actions, becoming informed, learning, asking the right questions, taking an interest. It’s knowing where we want to go, our goals, our expectations, and making decisions and plans based on the best information that we can gather.
0:51:36:16 Pamela D Wilson: When you think about what should be done or not done for another person, ask yourself, will this support—will my help—lead to independence or more dependence?” How many of us embrace self-reliance or want others to help us all the time? Do we avoid blaming others for what’s now working in our life or not working in our lives? Or do we constantly blame everybody else, everything else, the world? If we make a mistake, do we own up to it and apologize? Embracing self-reliance and responsibility for ourselves isn’t easy.
0:52:25:0012 Pamela D Wilson: It involves doing things that we may find boring, frustrating, or time-consuming. Being self-reliant may mean making decisions that are not favorable but are the best we can make at the present time. This can relate to making choices about medical care for an aging parent or deciding to place a parent in a care community. Talking about caregiving may involve making decisions we’d rather avoid. Asking questions that we’d rather not know the answers to because we may be contributing to the problem. As I talk about frequently, waiting or delaying to move forward can have a cost because if options you have today may not be available 6 months, 12 months, or a year from now.
0:53:11:63 Pamela D Wilson: Managing caregiver anger and resentment involves replacing these feelings with positive actions that can shift a situation that’s not working and make it better. The way we think and our attitude in approaching problems contributes to our success. On this topic, here are two quotes from Winston Churchill about decision-making for a little validation and inspiration about the benefits of making choices and having a positive attitude.
0:53:11:63 Pamela D Wilson: The first: But you should never accept negative solutions because they limit your potential. Instead, you should always make choices that expand your reach and don’t shrink you into your comfort zone. And here’s another quote: Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. If you’re going through hell, keep going. Everyone has his day, and some days last longer than others.
0:54:39:61 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s be honest; caregiving on any day can have us feeling like we’re in heaven—feeling appreciated and that the world is right. And on other days like we are living in hell where everything goes wrong. The important thing, as Churchill said, is to keep going, to make choices, and my advice? Consider investigating options. Consider trying to figure out what the problem is and making a plan. Choosing a direction. If you need any help or any direction in creating a care plan or thinking about where you want your care situation go to, or creating a care situation for yourself, I’m here to help.
0:55:29:75 Pamela D Wilson: Listeners – you are amazing. Stay positive and keep moving forward. Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation. Please Invite your family and friends to listen each week. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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