Manage caregiver resentment to reduce stress
When put into a situation that we didn’t choose, it’s not uncommon to feel negative and resentful.
And when you spend so much time and energy caring for your older adult, it’s natural to experience caregiver resentment – no matter how much you love or care about them.
For example, you might resent the overall situation, their illness, certain behaviors, unhelpful family members, or unsupportive friends.
We might want to avoid or suppress these negative feelings, but if they’re not addressed, they can significantly increase caregiver stress.
To reduce stress and improve well-being, we share 5 ways to help you reduce and manage caregiver resentment.
5 ways to reduce caregiver resentment
1. Evaluate the current caregiving situation
Caregiving tasks, responsibilities, and stress levels tend to increase over time. Many people don’t even notice until they get overwhelmed, burned out, and suffering physically.
That’s why it’s necessary to take a step back once in a while and reassess the caregiving situation and notice how things have been changing over time.
You might realize that you’ve added more and more to your to do list. Every additional responsibility and task takes up valuable time and energy – and takes a toll on your mental and physical health.
Or maybe the level of care that your older adult needs now has increased to the point where it’s nearly too much for one person to handle.
Or, things could still be manageable, but you realize that you could use help with specific tasks like meals, housekeeping, or home maintenance.
2. Explore a variety of ways to get help with caregiving
Getting help is important for sustaining long-term caregiving and preserving your own health and well-being.
If you can get help from the people that you think should be helping, that’s a wonderful situation to be in. If that isn’t possible, be open to getting help from other sources.
Some family members actively find ways to help and contribute to caregiving. Take them up on their offers to help and let them know what you need.
Others may want to help, but don’t know what to do and aren’t proactive about figuring out how they can help. For family members in this category, communicate openly about the specific things that you need help with and ask for their assistance.
For those who refuse to help or contribute no matter how many times you’ve asked, it may be time to save your emotional energy and move on to finding other sources of help.
Friends and neighbors
People are often willing to help when asked, so don’t be shy. There might be tasks that they could do that wouldn’t take them too much effort, but would be a big help to you.
For example, you might ask a neighbor to pick up a few items at a store they visit regularly.
Or you could ask a friend who loves to cook to make you a couple of healthy meals to keep in the freezer for those tough days when you don’t have the energy to cook.
If you need help and there aren’t many people you can ask for assistance, consider hiring professionals to take certain tasks off your To Do list.
This could mean paying for services like in-home caregiving help, twice-a-month house cleaning, or occasional takeout meals.
Many city or county governments and community organizations have volunteer programs that provide assistance to members of the local community.
Check with the Area Agency on Aging (a county government service), local faith organizations like churches or synagogues, and service organizations like Rotary Club to find out about available volunteer programs and how they could help you.
The Eldercare Locator (a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging) also helps you find support, financial assistance, nutritional assistance, and more.
3. Take care of basic needs
When you’re feeling upset or angry, it helps to notice and identify what is causing or contributing to negative feelings so you can take steps to address it.
For example, sometimes we get so caught up in our older adult’s needs that we forget our own very basic needs like drinking water and eating healthy meals. When that happens, it’s no surprise that we feel extra stressed, negative, and resentful.
Similarly, if you’re exhausted, it will amplify any negative feelings.
Making sure to eat healthy food and drink water throughout the day is a must in order to help ourselves feel better. Finding ways to get more sleep is also essential for maintaining your well-being.
4. Take regular breaks
It’s nearly impossible to do anything 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without any breaks. Regularly taking breaks from caregiving gives you the time you need to rest and recharge.
That doesn’t mean you’ll need hours each day to relax. Even taking a few 10 minute breaks can make a big difference in how you feel.
5. Find sources of support
Being able to talk about what you’re going through is another effective way to cope with feelings of resentment.
Ways to get support include: