Anger management.

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I seem to get angry when one of the people I look after acts unable to do anything on her own. She does all kinds of things when I am not there. I know I may be expecting to much but want to change my attitude and reduce this anger. She has breathing problems and gets short of breath it just makes one feel used at times


No, you should expect them to do what they can do for themselves. It is better for them as well as for you. People often have strange attitudes about that though - some even think in hospitals that the nurses are there to wait on them, sometimes even to the point they will sit and wait for a nurse or an aide change their baby's diaper...which of course makes the nurses and aides quite angry! If it is possible, you need to set expectations with this person by discussing them openly rather than just seething with frustration over it though. It may be that this person really does have such bad lung disease that your doing things for them that involve a lot of energy expenditure or independent mobility gives them some much needed rest, though they can do for themselves when they truly have to; OR they may be taking advantage of the situation. It may be hard to know without a lot more detailed discussion with them and/or with family or other medical staff what you really should and should not do for them.
I understand that patients who do not try to help themsleves are frunstrating, but as a professional you need to check your anger, I am certain it comes through
my mom usedta jabber until shed run out of breath and i would find it kind of annoying. later , near her end of life i realized that one of her diagnoses was COPD. id just suggest trying to imagine how youd act if you had the same health issues. elder care can be incredibly exasperating but the more you read up on the various health issues the easier it becomes to extend some patience.
there was a thread on here recently about why an 84 yr old man wouldnt help out around the house. with or without health issues the sob is EIGHTY FOUR years old. if i were him id try to get the best nights sleep ever so i could muster the energy to jab the complainer in the eye with a fork, then id go back to bed..
I took a developmentally disabled girl to scout camp after her mother read me a litany of shecants: she can't button, she can't cut with a scissors, she can't dress herself, etc. Sure enough the sweet child told me she couldn't. "Do the best you can" I told her. By gum she could do all of it and more.
So don't let this patient snooker you. Tell her she can, she can, she can.
Ismaimi, Thanks for the comment but this is a relative and I am not a professional caretaker. It is harder due to family dynamics and I am trying to find some other ways to view the situation without causing more stress in the family.
merigreene, first let me say that I admire your recognition that anger isn't going to help the situation and your desire to change your attitude. The family is lucky to have your help.

I was in the University's medical school today, and I saw a series of framed posters in a hallway, explaining why they research and why they teach. There were posters about diabetes and cancer, etc. One said "because if you can't breathe nothing else matters." I thought of this post which I'd read last night.

Your care receiver (CR) has breathing problems. She experiences shortness of breath. The impairment is severe enough that she is deemed to need some care assistance. She does things on her own while you are not there. Does she do them easily? Does she get short of breath, to the point of being terrified, of maybe having panic attacks? Are there some things she just lets go because she "can" do them but after a bad spell she just doesn't have the energy to do them? When she knew you were going to start helping her did she think, "Oh thank God! Now I'll have at least some time each week when I can take it easy, and fight for every breath"?

I think sometimes that COPD issues don't look as severe as they are. If you can't breathe, nothing else matters.

Maybe what your CR expects is not fair to you. Maybe giving in to her would not even be good for her. But can you really blame her for trying? Maybe she is consciously trying to take advantage of you, but I suspect in her place I'd probably go for all the help I could get, too.

How much you should do for her and how much you should encourage her to do for herself is a judgment call, and one you'll get better at as time goes on. But even if you don't wait on her to the degree she thinks she'd like, it doesn't seem to me that anger is an appropriate response. (It doesn't seem productive to you, either, or you wouldn't have posted.) Compassion for her very real impairments would make you both feel better, I think.

Establish some boundaries about what she can expect from you. Stick to them -- except be flexible enough to recognize when she truly is having a bad day and needs a little extra help or just an extra dose of TLC.

We all get frustrated and angry sometimes in the caregiver role. It is certainly a role where we are constantly reminded that life is not fair! I think it is commendable that you are looking to reduce your anger level. Good luck!
I am seeing more and more that her emotional health may be playing a factor as the other relative she lives with has had some new issues and she is more helpful and complains less when she is helping her.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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