As a family caregiver, providing care and support to an older adult or a family member with a health condition is a great responsibility. Family caregivers often put in hours of loving care and personal attention to ensure their loved one is well taken care of.
However, the caregiving journey can be challenging and often brings a wide range of emotions, from positive to negative feelings. Family caregivers may experience feelings of resentment, anger, and guilt, among others.
In this article, we will explore different ways to cope with caregiver resentment and anger.
Is It Normal To Resent Being A Caregiver?
Caregiving is a noble and compassionate act, but let’s not kid ourselves, it can also be emotionally and physically challenging to care for older adults. It is normal for family caregivers to feel a wide range of emotions, including feelings of resentment. This is a common emotion among family caregivers who feel burdened and even trapped.
You might even have conflicting feelings, like love and resentment, at the same time. It can be challenging, and if you don’t pay attention, it’ll wear you down.Webmd.com
These negative feelings can be triggered by different factors, such as the caregiver’s financial situation, lack of support, social isolation, physical exhaustion, past relationship dynamics, or their own feelings that they’re not doing enough.
It is not uncommon for caregivers to experience feelings of resentment or frustration, especially if they feel like they have been forced into the role or are overwhelmed by the responsibilities it entails. This is especially true if the caregiving duties are not or for whatever reason, cannot be shared with other family members.
It’s important to acknowledge and validate these feelings of resentment, but also to seek out support and resources to help manage them. This could involve talking to a therapist or counselor, joining a caregiver support group, or reaching out to friends and family for help and support.
I recently shared with a friend who has suddenly become the primary caregiver for her 92 year old mother that the most essential task is for her to care for herself first. This means taking care of her own health, taking breaks, setting boundaries, asking for help when needed, and making time to do activities that bring her joy.
I know that for many adult children (especially women), that sounds much easier said than done, but setting these boundaries is important to prevent caregiver resentment, anger and burnout from escalating.
It’s also important to set realistic expectations. Unmet expectations are often the root of caregiver anger and resentment. By communicating openly with family members and understanding one another’s needs and limitations, it is possible to manage expectations and build a more cohesive family unit.
Why Am I So Angry As A Caregiver?
Well, for many family caregivers, the role of caregiving is thrust upon them and it’s an intrusion into their life. It’s perfectly normal to feel like you are sacrificing your personal freedom, career goals and other life plans for the care of another. Even if that other person is your loving parent.
Another cause of anger is stress. Caregiving is an incredibly demanding job – physically and emotionally – which can take a toll on your own mental and physical health, as well as your personal relationships.
For some, their caregiving experience has been a long-term event. In other words, they’ve been caring for their loved one for many years. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout, which can then result in feelings of anger and resentment.
For others, the anger comes from being trapped in caring for someone they have had a difficult relationship with. I have a dear friend in this situation and it is hard to watch her feel so overwhelmed, frustrated and helpless.
Forgive yourself. Find constructive ways to express yourself, learn to walk away and give yourself a “time out.” Identify supportive people you can talk to who will listen as you vent about the things that happened that day.caregiver.org
Caregivers may also feel anger towards the healthcare system or other external factors that make their job more difficult, such as bureaucratic red tape, inadequate insurance coverage, or a lack of support and resources.
I know women who have sacrificed their relationships with their spouses and their children to care for their elderly parents. Believe me, this type of situation never ends well. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are taking the time to care for yourself, too.
Ways To Cope With Caregiver Resentment and Anger
The first step in coping with feelings of resentment and anger is to acknowledge them. It is okay to feel uncomfortable feelings, and it does not make the caregiver a bad person.
Here are some effective ways to cope with caregiver resentment and anger:
Acknowledge your feelings: It’s important to recognize and validate your emotions. Try to identify what specifically is causing your anger or resentment and allow yourself to feel those emotions without judgment.
Seek Support. Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but caregivers do not have to go through it alone. Family caregivers can seek support from family members, supportive friends, or professional help.
There are caregiver support groups, local support groups, and online support groups that provide a safe space for caregivers to share their experiences, feelings, and thoughts with others who understand what they are going through.
Take Care Of Yourself. I know I say this a lot but, it’s SO important! As a primary caregiver, it’s extremely important to put the oxygen mask on yourself first! Taking care of one’s physical health and mental health is essential in coping with caregiver resentment and anger.
Family caregivers should prioritize their physical well-being by eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, getting enough sleep, and seeking medical attention when necessary. They can also practice relaxation techniques such as deep breaths, meditation, self-hypnosis, and yoga.
A newer form of therapy that you may want to explore is neurofeedback therapy. It may help you to reduce anger and aggression as well as improve your concentration and restful sleep.
It’s important for caregivers to incorporate time for themselves into their days as well. Taking breaks from caring for others is essential in order to recharge both physically and emotionally. It may help to find activities
Plan For Respite Care. Respite care services are available for family caregivers who need a longer break from their caregiving duties. Respite care allows caregivers to take time off to rest, engage in self-care, and recharge their emotional energy.
Family caregivers can explore different respite care options, such as adult day programs, senior centers, or in-home respite care.
Take breaks: It’s important to take time away from your caregiving responsibilities in order to recharge. Ask for help from family or friends, or consider hiring a respite care worker to provide temporary relief.
Practice relaxation techniques: Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help to reduce caregiver stress and promote relaxation. Consider incorporating these techniques into your daily routine.
Hold A Family Meeting. Family relationships can be complicated, and caregiving responsibilities can add to the complexity. It is essential to hold a family meeting to discuss caregiving responsibilities, expectations, and concerns.
Family members can work together to create a caregiving plan that distributes responsibilities fairly and ensures the care recipient.
Set boundaries: It’s okay to say no or to set limits on what you’re able to do. Communicate your needs and limitations to others involved in the caregiving process.
Find helpful tools: These days products and technology have given us many great ways to give ourselves a break in daily caregiving tasks. Take advantage of tools like Alexa, Lifting Cushions, Bed Monitoring Alarms and much more.
Seek professional help: If your anger or resentment is persistent and interferes with your daily life, consider speaking with a therapist or counselor.
If you are experiencing chronic depressive symptoms, it is important to seek professional help. A licensed clinical social worker or therapist can help you work through your complicated emotions and provide you with tools to manage your stress levels.
They may also be able to refer you to other resources, such as respite care services or local support groups.
Some Helpful Resources
Here are some resources that you can look into and use to help you as you care for your loved ones.
Family Caregiver Alliance – The Family Caregiver Alliance provides essential support and services to families and caregivers of the elderly, people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke victims and other long-term conditions. Through education, research, advocacy, and service programs they offer practical solutions for family caregiving issues.
Caregiver Action Network – The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for caregivers. They offer resources and support through their website, national helpline, peer support program, caregiver safety education program, and more.
AARP Family Caregiving – AARP’s Family Caregiving Program provides resources, tools and tips for family caregivers. They offer a wide range of support including: financial planning, legal advice, caregiving stories and experiences from other families, helpful articles and videos on various topics related to caregiving.
The National Alliance for Caregiving – The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit organization focused on improving the quality of life for family caregivers. They provide a range of services from informational webinars, support groups and educational programs to resources and toolkits specifically designed for family caregivers.
The Thoughtful Caregiver: Surviving, Thriving and Growing in Spirit as You Care for Your Elderly Parent
Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver’s Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm
Soul Care For Caregivers: How to Help Yourself While Helping Others
Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenging one that brings up a wide range of emotions. It is important for family caregivers to recognize their own emotional needs and take steps to cope with negative feelings of resentment and anger.
By taking care of themselves, seeking support from others, and managing their negative thoughts, family caregivers can provide hours of loving.