First of all I want to say I am an admirer of all caregivers everywhere. Caregivers are individuals who often give up their own lives to take care of others, miss events, skip meals, put their own health in jeopardy and all other sorts of sacrifices to help their loved one.
But I also have to say that sometimes these wonderful people who would give the shirt off their back to help someone are the problem when situations get tense or an argument starts. I know for some caregivers, this will be hard to hear so again I want to say I admire what you are doing, your loved one is appreciative but no one is perfect, everyone is human and everyone gets tired, worn out, stressed out and on occasion acts out.
So what does acting out mean? Acting out means that sometimes caregivers are so stressed that their loved one picks up on that stress and the moment the person they are caring for drops something or has an accident or repeats him or herself the caregiver’s body language, voice, speech everything changes. This can start a change of reactions that will end up in a super duper argument and nothing gets accomplished.
Or sometimes loved ones cannot see their aging parent is getting sicker. It is the same phenonmen as when the kids are growing up and someone says Johnny is getting taller and the mother goes he is? She cannot see it but a person outside like a neighbor, an aunt or teacher can. The same thing happens with our memory impaired clients. Sometimes their illness has gradual changes and they are getting more forgettable but the primary caregiver cannot see it.
The caregiver treats the loved one as he or she always has and the arguments start. The stress level goes up. The caregiver is wondering why is wrong with him? He did it for me yesterday but today he is not. The loved one has trouble communicating the changes and begins to act out in an angry way very much like a child would.
If the caregiver does not catch him or herself in this moment an argument is going to happen. Frustration is going to build and nothing will get accomplished. Sometimes caregivers in the midst of everything they have to do, realizes they have to do one more thing, change. Change behavior. And sometimes the caregiver does not realize it and that becomes a cycle of frustration and anger.
Caregivers you are the best. No one could do what you do. You take care of your loved one when you are tired, when you are sick and now I am here to ask you to do one more thing. I am sorry. Please don’t be mad at me. Try to take a minute and think about what I am proposing to you. If you can stop yourself in the middle of the next frustrating and argumentive moment and change your behavior, you might find you are less stressed and less tired. It can only help.