Is it normal to have feelings of resentment as a caregiver? The short answer is yes; it’s completely normal to feel bad about caregiving, but there are things you can do to make it better.
Family relationships are complicated. Whether you’ve always been close to your mom and dad, or it’s been a strained partnership over the years, aging brings about new and uncertain wrinkles in the way we interact with our parents. If you’re in the position of caring for your parents, you may be feeling confused, awkward or even angry about your new role and what it means for how you spend your time.
Caregiving also tests the limits you have on existing resources, including your emotional resources. With help from the experts at Five Star Premier Residences of Yonkers, here’s what you should know about your feelings during this changing time.
Caregiver resentment is more common than you think. It can happen in all types of caregiver relationships, whether that be a spouse caring for a spouse, a parent caring for a child or a child caring for a parent. The demands on your time and energy can vary, from simple meal preparation to more involved tasks like bathing, administering medications or helping with physical therapy tasks. All of this happens in addition to your own family and job responsibilities, and for many, it can feel like too much.
Fortunately, you are not alone. Many caregivers may feel the following feelings or thoughts when caring for a parent:
- Feeling abandoned or alone
You may feel all of these things at once, or only some of them. They may be intense, or you may not be sure you’re feeling them, at all. They may pop up when you’re dealing with emotions about unrelated life events, as well.
It doesn’t make you a “bad” person
You may be wondering how feelings of resentment portray you as an individual. “Who would be embarrassed or angry about caring for their own mother?” you may think. Remember, however, that simply having doubts does not make you an ill-equipped caregiver. When we are tired, stressed, lacking sleep, hungry or emotionally stretched, it’s more common to have thoughts that we can’t do it all. If your relationship with your parent was already strained before you took the caregiver role, these feelings and thoughts may be even more apparent.
It may be a clue to bigger things
While having feelings of resentment is common and can even be a normal part of adjusting to your new role, these nagging thoughts or overwhelming emotions shouldn’t be ignored. They are clues to the changes you may need to make to better handle what’s being asked of you. They can even hint that you need help.
First, if you ever have thoughts of hurting your parent or yourself, stop and walk away. Take a breath. Call a friend. Don’t ignore that you may have hit a breaking point. Reach out to a local caregiver group or call a mental health professional and tell them how you are feeling. We may think that our parent’s needs come first, but – in reality – you should never put off dealing with your own emotional, mental or physical needs. They won’t be resolved on their own.
Next, revisit how you got to this point. Is it just the reversal of care roles that has you feeling down? Grieving the traditional relationship is part of the process that many have to go through. If it’s truly the strain on your time and energy that’s put you here, address this and see how you can utilize the help of paid services, respite care or day services. Even if you can only afford it temporarily, it might give you the breathing room you need to take care of yourself and renew your perspective on the situation.
Family relationships change through the years
Finally, it may be helpful to connect with other caregivers in the same situation. Today’s support groups are made up of all kinds of families, ranging from those who have always been close to their parents to those who were estranged up until they took on a caregiving role. Since families can be complicated, your feelings may not be solely tied to the stress of staying up late with a sick parent or having to rearrange your work schedule to fit another doctor appointment in. You have a lifetime of memories and emotions to work through; support groups can help the process along.
Source: Linsey Knerl for Five Star Premier Residences of Yonkers.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
For more resources, subscribe to our free eNewsletter!