Caregiver Anger: The Emotion You May Not Have Expected

If you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the care needs of your aging parents, what would they be? Maybe you would first think of emotions like compassion, love, and sometimes, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers would not wish to disclose it, the answer is a resounding YES. Caregiver anger is common for many family caregivers.

The truth is that a large number of adult children grapple with the fact that their parents are growing older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded strength, health, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health shatters that idea, which may leave us feeling disillusioned, let down, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.

As the tables turn and aging parents become the ones in need of care, family dynamics can become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we need to resist or deny – something that can have an effect on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.

Add to that the compounded stress experienced by people who are part of the sandwich generation – taking care of children at home and aging parents simultaneously. Nearly one in three adults with senior parents believe their parents require some amount of care along with emotional support.

So, how might you shift to a more positive mindset?

The most crucial step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of the Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”

Honest, open communication is also important. Family caretakers and their parents should express their thoughts about what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be altered. Sometimes just learning the other person’s perspective makes all the difference. For instance, a senior parent may exhibit irritation with being reminded to put on his/her glasses. An appropriate response might be to clarify the reason for the reminders – because of a concern that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.

Focusing on the quality time your caregiving role gives you with your senior parents, while balancing your parents’ needs with your own, is key. Among the best ways to achieve this is by selecting a dependable care partner to help. Connect with Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

Tips to Help Overcome Family Caregiver Dread

caregiver in deep thoughtWhat are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up each morning? Are you looking forward to what the day holds, or would you like to crawl back underneath the covers and stay there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you think through your family caregiver responsibilities for the day, you’re not the only one.

Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, or even burnout, caregiver dread is an exhausted, heavy feeling of obligation. It stems from feelings of overcommitment as well as the need to escape from obligations. While possible to push through and carry out necessary tasks in spite of these feelings, there are methods to conquer them instead – and regain the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. For starters, try these techniques:

  • Release the guilt. Meeting the caregiving needs of someone can feel unimpactful, mundane, and simply downright tough. It takes selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you’re requested to do by no means reflects the way you feel about your senior loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and it’s okay to wish you could be doing something different.
  • Intentionally search for joy. The tiny pleasures each day holds may be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every morning to identify five small things that make you smile. Keep a journal of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the end of each week. Engage all of your senses while you seek out the day’s joys: the smell of freshly baked cookies; the beauty of the sunset; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
  • Set boundaries. Designate time every day to spend on pursuits that you enjoy independent of the senior in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving tasks start to weigh you down. A dependable care partner is vital to make sure nothing interferes with the important time of taking care of yourself.

Remind yourself that the work you’re doing in caring for your loved one is vitally important. Yet also keep in mind that nobody can do it all, and in order to provide the most effective care for the senior and for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are needed.

Connect with Generations at Home’s aging care experts at 727-940-3414 to arrange for regular Pinellas Park respite care services and release the burden of caregiving dread. We’re here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time along with an aging loved one and also to rediscover joy in your own life as well. Reach out to us today to find out if our expert respite care services are available in your community.

Top Tips for Managing Stress for Caregivers

senior man relaxing and listening to headphonesStress is inevitable, and actually, not necessarily always a bad thing. After all, as the saying goes, “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” Yet especially when managing stress for family caregivers, it can quickly escalate and become overwhelming, and if not managed effectively, lead to serious health concerns.

Try these tips to minimize stress and achieve a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle – both for yourself and those you love:

  • Change your self-talk. Throughout the course of your day, you may find yourself entertaining thoughts such as, “I can’t do this!” or “Everything is going wrong!” Pause when negative thinking begins to intrude, and say to yourself instead, “I can handle this, one step at a time,” or “Help is available to me whenever I need it.”
  • Take a break. Deescalate stress through any or all of the following techniques:
    • Breathe deeply (inhale to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; exhale to a count of 4; hold for a count of 4; repeat as needed)
    • Take a walk or engage in some other physical activity
    • Pray or meditate
    • Play favorite music
    • Write in a journal
    • Call a friend
  • Try a stress-busting activity. There are a variety of enjoyable activities that can distract your focus away from whatever was causing stress and onto something more positive, such as creating art, reading, playing with pets or children, working in the garden or on a DIY project – the ideas are limitless, and even as little as 10 or 15 minutes spent on the activity can help.

There are even apps specifically created with family caregivers in mind to help reduce stress and restore calm. Find five that are especially helpful here from DailyCaring.

Caregiver stress is particularly common for those who feel as though they have no support system, and have to manage everything independently. Thankfully, we have a solution! Call Generations at Home for a free in-home consultation to learn how we can share in your caregiving duties, allowing you the necessary time away to destress, with services such as:

  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene
  • Taking care of housekeeping chores and laundry
  • Running errands, such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
  • Accompaniment to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Companionship to brighten each day with stimulating conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, etc.
  • Medication reminders
  • And so much more

Contact us online or call us at 727-940-3414 and discover how a partner in care can make a world of difference in reducing caregiver stress and restoring a healthy life balance.