Of the over 40 million Americans who care for elderly loved ones every year, a vast majority do so by choice. And although serving as an unpaid caregiver is a labor of love, negative feelings like anger and resentment are possible. Allowed to fester, those pent-up emotions can affect the quality of life for both parties. Thankfully, overcoming feelings of anger and resentment is possible by taking these steps.
Sources of Caregiver Resentment
Most informal caregivers will experience resentment at some point during their caregiving journey. Resentment is a natural human emotion that may be triggered by:
- Not spending enough time with one’s spouse, partner or children
- Shouldering most of the caregiving burden alone
- Missing work because of caregiving duties
- Feeling tired and run down
- Financial difficulties resulting from out-of-pocket expenses
- Not getting enough sleep
- Feeling trapped
- Feeling underappreciated or unappreciated
Along with other negative emotions like shame, guilt and frustration, resentment can make caregiver fatigue even worse.
Resentment Management Tips for Caregivers
Both you and your care recipient will enjoy a higher quality of life when you use these resentment management tips:
Recognize that your feelings are normal
If you’re feeling trapped right now because your loved one depends on you for their physical and emotional needs, that’s only normal. Planning for what lies ahead, including the caregiving challenges, can be overwhelming.
As your loved one’s illness progresses, the nature of your relationship will change- for example, a daughter caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s or cancer. It’s only natural for feelings like anxiety, hopelessness and resentment to surface as relationship roles are suddenly reversed.
Remember why you became a caregiver
Caregivers take on the role for various reasons, including love, feeling obligated or simply because “it’s the right thing to do”. In cases where the caregiver feels pressured to take on these new responsibilities, they oftentimes feel frustrated or resentful.
Not getting much support from other family members can also fuel feelings of resentment. No matter your motivation, when you’re having a bad day focus on why you became a caregiver in the first place.
Celebrate small victories along the way
No matter how hard you try your loved one’s condition is going to get worse. Come to terms with that fact and celebrate small victories along the way. For example, if you were able to get dad to eat all the food on his plate for a whole week, pam