Responsibility vs. Resentment: Caring for Elderly Relatives #caresupport

As part of the sandwich generation, I care for a 13 year old daughter and my elderly mother and aunt. To be brutally honest, I feel the tug of responsibility and resentment on an almost daily basis. And I’m not alone.

The national survey, released today, shows that 63 percent of caregivers spend, on average, nine or more hours a week providing care to an adult over the age of 50 and nearly one in three (31 percent) describe the task as extremely or very difficult. Most notably, nearly one in three (30 percent) caregivers also has experienced some feelings of isolation.

(According to AARP and the Ad Council survey in August of 2012)

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My Story of Caregiving

I love my family. I was brought up to take responsibility when someone needs help. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 81 she lived in my home while recovering from surgery and during treatment. My aunt was already in a care facility, so I took on the role of making sure she was healthy, doing laundry, etc.

Since my mother’s diagnosis, she changed mentally. She was extremely forgetful and anxious. Thankfully, she gained back much of her mental status in a few months. But things were never the same.

I became my aunt’s financial guardian during this time, which is not my cup of tea. My mother returned home, but needed more assistance with every day needs. The stress was adding up and I could feel myself becoming resentful of the many roles I had to play.

My Home Life and Poor Me

My daughter has several health problems and anxiety. She has had a lot of difficulty with school and many doctors’ appointments. Although my husband helps as much as he can, he works full time at a very stressful job. And I have multiple chronic illnesses.

The combination of being a caregiver for my mother, my aunt and my daughter began to weigh heavily on me.  I’ll never forget the day my daughter was diagnosed with a severe cardiac illness. I called my mom to let her know. She yelled at me about my attempt to stop her from taking my aunt home from the hospital instead of returning to the care facility. Was this my mother?

It Hit the Fan

My mom’s personality changed dramatically over the last two years. She was angry and paranoid. She’d call me one day and curse me out. The next day, she’d talk to me as if nothing had happened. I spoke to her doctors. I spoke to her counselor, but it continued.

My mother was diagnosed a few months ago with a benign brain tumor which can cause personality changes as well as headaches and falls. I hate to say it, but in a way I was relieved. Maybe when the tumor was removed, I’d have my old mom back. During her recovery and about a month after, it seemed to be so. All too soon, the love affair was over. The berating calls began again.

I haven’t been taking care of myself because of caregiver burnout. I don’t keep my doctors’ appointments. My appearance is last on the list. I hardly ever go out socially. I don’t sleep or eat well and have mood swings.

Coping Tips

Instead of being continuously stressed out and feeling resentful about my caregiver role, I’ve learned how to cope:

  • I don’t answer calls from my mother. Instead they go to voicemail.
  • I reach out to family and medical professionals for help.
  • I take care of myself first so that I can take care of my family.
  • I speak to a counselor about my feelings.
  • I have given most of the responsibility of being the financial guardian for my aunt to an attorney.
  • My family and I get away more, even if it’s a short trip.

Edit: I feel the need to say that I love my mother dearly. If she needs me for something serious, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. It has just become physically and mentally overwhelming now. And I pray that a medical professional would step in to help so I do more for her.

For more information on being a caregiver, visit the Caregiver Resource Center from AARP.

Are you a caregiver? Do you feel resentful at times?

I am part of AARP’s kitchen cabinet on caregiving.  This is a series of posts on the topic of caregiving. This post and my social media involvement is compensated, but all opinions are my own.

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Connie Roberts

Professional Blogger
Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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Comments

  1. Connie, I think you have given a voice to the weight that so many are feeling these days… taking care of older parents and younger children is MORE than a full-time job. Add to that the stress of coping with chronic illnesses (both your own and your daughters) and you deserve a medal for strength and bravery! Sometimes pulling away is the only way you can maintain your sanity… and like you said, you will ALWAYS be there in case of an emergency. Don’t beat yourself up for being human… recognize that you are doing the very best that you can and treat yourself with some extra love and kindness… much hugs to you!
    DawnV wrote this fabulous post..Tips for Relieving Anxiety on Election DayMy Profile

  2. Your Mom and Aunt are very lucky to have you in their lives- in so many families it always comes down it seems to one person and settles on their shoulders. I have seen families with 4,5 6 siblings and only one out of many do much of anything and it gets super stressful on the one that does.

    Have been there done that and it isnt easy at all, but after it is all said and done you will be the richer for having spent time with them when you could have turned away.

  3. Wow, You definitely are going through a lot. I can totally understand how you would be feeling a little resentment at this point. What I admire is your strength and that you are looking for a way to cope as opposed to a whining session… stay awesome!!
    KarenYvonne wrote this fabulous post..Don’t Give UpMy Profile

  4. Oh my gosh, honey, WOW. You certainly have your hands full and I am sorry for all that you are going through. I am glad that you are taking steps to give yourself a break and be happier and healthier. You have to take care of YOU too!

  5. You sure have had your hands full, ladies.
    Jessica wrote this fabulous post..How She Found the Marbles: A Journey of Self DiscoveryMy Profile

  6. I can’t imagine how overwhelming all that would be – I don’t know how I’d handle it! I’m glad you have great coping tips!
    Melissa wrote this fabulous post..Review and Giveaway: Little Tikes Big Adventures Action FliersMy Profile

  7. I think it is so important to take care of yourself so that you can help the other important people in your life.
    Kerri wrote this fabulous post..Kids Foot Locker Awesome Week And $25 Gift Card Giveaway – 2 winners!My Profile

  8. I am not right now, but plan to take care of my mom when she is older.
    Hanan wrote this fabulous post..SAHM and Blogger, is it possible?My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Responsibility vs. Resentment: Caring for Elderly Relatives #caresupport” Instead of being continuously stressed out and feeling resentful about my caregiver role, I’ve learned how to cope: […]

  2. […] the boundaries I have with specific family members with less guilt. Taking on responsibilities to help my family is OK, but not to the point where my mental and physical health […]

  3. […] be stressful to be a new caregiver. You may fear the unknown, feel like it is overwhelming, or feel resentment or guilt. None of these feelings are wrong. There is no need to hide them as it will only make it […]

  4. […] actually good for both of us to be apart for a short time. I am less likely to lose my temper and feel resentment towards my […]

  5. […] us visualize a son or daughter caring for an elderly parent. And that is often the case. I am the caregiver for my mother and was the caregiver for my aunt until she passed away. But, my husband is often my […]

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