There seems to be a stigma that caregivers are 'lower' class...

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After caregiving for my mother for 13 years and experienced a gradual recession and cruel treatment from my immediate family, I am realistically 'seeing' this as the case. It's easy for people to brush this claim as false, but they're usually not caregivers (this was by fare the worst Christmas I ever had, as my family All ignored me... ). Not looking for sympathy, and I'll probably 'make' it through this huge stage of my life, that has impacted my years... But, wondering what you think (your perception)...


I recently had a rant on another thread about how dementia in general, is still treated like a dirty little secret. Perhaps caregivers get the blow back from that. Back when I was still working I was a district manager for a retail company - my district had 12 stores in malls in three states and took in millions of dollars annually- yet that was easy in comparison to managing my mother! And I didn't live with her. I think unless someone has experienced it - it's impossible to fully appreciate the hard work and the mental and physical toll being a caregiver to an elderly person can be - especially if dementia is involved.
I think what you're saying certainly has merit. In my family I find that no one really has a clue how tiring, mentally and emotionally, the caregiving is, nor do they care, and it's seen something for "other people" to handle. The other people is me. And though I know it's not always true, caregiving often falls to the daughter for a myriad of reasons, one being that women are still seen as lower.
What you say is true, Heart. I taught in universities and did research for 25 years, but quickly became a domestic in the eyes of family and people around me. It is one of those "oh well" things, considering my family and the community I'm in. I fall back on a spiritual commandment -- Do things that are to the benefit of all. I really don't care how they feel about me if I know I am doing something that is good. The only thing that is trying to me is to be treated poorly by the person I'm caring for. I don't think she even sees me as a person, but just an extension of herself. That is hard to live with.
I never seemed to have noticed any stigma that caregivers are 'lower' class... even before hiring caregivers. Surprised anyone does as one doesn't think babysitters or those who take care of children during the day are "lower" class.

I think when family and or sibling become cruel to the caregiver, it probably is done out of guilt.

Our social status is still largely dependent on our level of wealth. Caregivers with bottomless resources can hire in extra help that allows them keep their place in society. The rest of us lose status because we often have to choose between the needs of our care recipient and our own needs.
Then there is the puzzlement from non caregiver types about why we are doing this at all, they have nursing homes after all. (Why does that bring Dickens to mind? lol)
And of course there is blow-back from the the low regard we place on paid caregivers, who are unfortunately poorly paid and often seen as people who couldn't qualify for a better job.
Well, I have to admit that it's easy to think that way. I remember back in the years when my mother was still self-sufficient, seeing other people (mostly daughters) out with their parents, buying groceries or eating in a coffee shop, and thinking these were individuals who had no lives of their own, and nothing better to do than tend to an elderly family member. I wondered who in their right mind would want to spend their time that way, what kind of person would be so unevolved that even as full-grown adults they would still be so attached to their parents? I thought that healthy adults just went out on their own and never looked back.

I thought that way until my mother got old and started needed help. She and I had a very friendly relationship as adults, so I did offer to do some things for her at first. Helped her get the house ready for family gatherings, etc. - things that had grown to be too much for her but were still within the purview of what a friend or helpful guest would do.

It quickly developed that she had a list of chores she needed done whenever I'd come down for a visit. Eventually I moved to be closer to her, thinking she should have somebody around in case of an emergency. Over a few years, she became so needy that there was no way to leave, and so demanding that I came to regret ever moving anywhere near her. But my fate was sealed by that time. And realistically, there were few to no alternatives.

Of course I see things differently now. I see caregivers out there and I wonder - what kind of life did this person want? What would they be doing if they didn't have to do this? I almost want to ask them, but I don't for fear of offending them.
It is so interesting to me that family members want to give advice and suggestions when they havent been to visit or only visit for very short periods of time. They are very busy talking to other people or using the Internet to get information on how to take care of my husband. Various "people" and the "internet" dont live with him or take care of him. If they would put more time in his care I would be more receptive to their thoughts. Very frustrating. So, I guess I do feel a little looked down upon. Im here day and night and feel I should get credit for making good decisions.
Well said Carla and Missy... (I'm mainly thinking of caregivers taking care of their own loved one and getting sucked into it... no knowing what lay ahead... until it's too late). The siblings that growing up said "I'm here for you" have been long gone and invisibly unavailable which has terminated our family completely. This does a number on your self-worth to say the least.
FF makes an interesting distinction between caring for babies and children vs. caring for older people. I was thinking of that last night while watching PBS' Call the Midwife; there was so much attention given to pregnant women, although that's been a focus of that program from its inception.

And there are social services to support parents or carers of children, while the comparable services are available not so much to caregivers but to their elders, and the services are income based with more limitations.

I do think though that someone who hasn't been through caregiving has no conception of the emotional or physical demands, or of the side effects of short and long term burnout and medical and mental deterioration of the caregiver.

Perhaps it's b/c babies and toddlers are so often viewed as cute and cuddly, the future of woman and mankind, while elders are at the end of their lives. I suspect w/o having done any research that some people rationalize noninvolvement or failure to give credit and support to caregivers b/c we're taking care of people who may be considered to no longer be in their productive years.

I also think that's a strong difference in approach by cultures. Native Americans do NOT treat their elders the way Caucasians do. From what I've read, neither do Asians. So, what is the inherent difference between the races? I don't know.

I do know that it's often harder to find intellectual challenge in caregiving. I try to think of it as including some project management aspects, so I can equate it to paid work and approach it more rationally.

That as well as the domestic nature of caregiving might be intrinsic to any perception that it's more lowly work. Investment banking it's not, but I would never choose that profession anyway. I'd prefer to be proud of what I did.
Ever since we moved so that my inlaws could live in independent living, other members of the family treat my husband and I as afterthoughts. It's as if we no longer are educated people able to hold conversations about things other than how my inlaws are doing. I can't remember the last time I was asked to bring a dish to a backyard barbecue because I can't remember the last time we were invited to one because my husband and I seem to have become a package deal with my inlaws. I'm fed up with talking about how my inlaws are and want to tell people who ask "If you're so curious go and see for yourself" but that would be rude, which would make its way around the family at lightening speed.

We are the only ones in caregiving roles for parents right now. Ten years from now (hopefully fewer) when I'm the one walking the Great Wall of China, feasting on fresh seafood in the Greek Isles, and sightseeing in South America, I will be sure to send postcards to all the currently oblivious family members minus the "wishing you were here" bit because that would be rude and a tad passive-aggressive.

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