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Caregiver Secrets: What Caregivers Are Really Thinking

Caregiver Confession #4: "Dad has no clue what I give up to do this. He thinks his care is routine."

This is a tricky one. As caregivers, we don't want to make the care receiver feel like he or she is a burden to you. The flip side of that, however, is that sometimes caregivers are so giving and cheerful all the time, that the care receiver completely loses sight of the fact that we give up a lot of our lives to be caregivers.

Also, some care receivers are not cognitively capable of even understanding the concept that the caregiver has other obligations. If you have a constant nagging thought that you are unappreciated, you may be in over your head. Getting some respite care may help. Once the care receiver understands that you need to have a break, he or she may be more appreciative. Either way, if you take a break, you will likely feel more refreshed and able to cope with the situation.

Caregiver Confession #5: "Everybody wants a piece of me – there's nothing of myself left for me."

Nearly every woman has had this feeling, whether it's a new mother with a baby demanding to be fed, changed and nurtured while the boss is sending her emails from work, or a caregiver of elders who still has children who are needy, or a mate who feels neglected.

In most cases, we get through this, but if it's ongoing, you may need a third party to help you decide what you can give and what others must do. Say you are the primary caregiver for your dad and your mother-in-law. Your spouse is whiny because he/she feels neglected. It may be time to say, "If you help me by picking up some of this extra caregiving, we'll have more time together." This won't always work, but some spouses just don't "get" the teamwork concept unless they are directly approached. If this doesn't work, look for some paid help. You need some time to yourself.

Caregiver Confession #6: "I can't even take a bath without someone needing me."

This is often a literal problem. If you like to relax by taking a half-hour break in the evening to relax in the tub – maybe with candles and music – but are routinely interrupted even during this sacred time for yourself – you are bound to feel some resentment. Expect to have this time interrupted on occasion, but if you never can take time to yourself, please look for some help. Even a Senior Companion from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), or a friend, may be able to sit with your loved one. If that isn't possible, it's time to look for a few hours of in-home help. Everyone needs some peace – even a caregiver.

Caregiver Confession #7: "Nothing I do pleases them – they are never happy."

See number two above. This behavior is often not about you. It's about them and their unhappiness over all of their losses. Do your best to detach from the criticism and get breaks when you can. Not taking criticism seriously is the best way to avoid resentment. Trying to understand why they are so critical can help (I'm not talking about historic family abuse here – just crabby, complaining behavior).

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Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories," a portable support group book for caregivers.
 






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