How do I get those around me to be understanding of all I do?

Asked by

As an only child caring for my father I find that those around me, family, neighbors, friends are often not very understanding or patient of me. My days are very busy as I work, take care of the house and acre+ of property, and my father's COPD has worsened over the past 6 months. He has recently been diagnosed with a swallowing problem that requires his drinks be thickened and a special soft diet which is takes more time as I need to cook more.

How do others get those around you to be more understanding and patient? I feel like people don't realize or expect that I do get tired and sometimes get cranky because I am tired. Neighbors are not always understanding if I don't get to week whacking around the fence or clearing snow from the sidewalks as quickly as they'd like. Sometimes things need to be let go a little longer when you're caring for a sick person - their needs take priority.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
Top Answer
I am an only child as well, and while our situations are different, I recently had an epiphany: many others aren't going to understand. Why have I tried so hard to tell my parents and my friends why I'm so worn out sometimes? Because I needed someone to understand: ME! I have to be patient with myself and draw boundaries when I can around my time and energy. If others don't understand, that's their problem and their business. I don't have time to care about that anymore.
You have asked the million dollar question! Over time I have discovered that ignorance is bliss. If family or friends do not have to think about how much you do, then it does not they wonder why you are "complaining."
Looking back now, when my friends were doing this, I really had no concept of how much time and energy caregiving demands. It really is one of those things that you have to experience to get the whole picture.
This does not, however, give anyone the right to judge or be impatient with you. But you do have to communicate with everyone. (ie: I am sorry if I was short with you, but the care of my father is stretching me thin right now.) You may get more empathy and perhaps even help if they know what is going on in your life.
Also, do a self-assessment to see if you have been delegating whenever you can. When I first started doing this, I thought I needed to do everything. That is a sure way to early burnout.
If family is not stepping up, are you able to hire in-home help once and awhile? You really do need to step away from things...even if it is to go window shopping or see a film. Can you hire someone to clear the snow or do yard work? We had a young man in our neighborhood who took great care of our yard and would sit our pets when we were away.
take it easy....Lilli
Give yourself a Hug if noone else will. People seem to lose focus on real life in general. Is it going to harm anyone if landscape is not perfect? It will harm Mom and Dad if you don't care for them and yourself. My favorite quote is American Indian "Do not judge a man until you walk a mile in his mocassins!" Do not waiste your time or stress out about what others say. You cannot change thier thoughts you can change yours. Try resourses to help in anyway you can.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Wuvsicecream, I really like that quote - think I might use that.

Thanks again everyone!
dmdmetz I don't mind if you do but if there is any legal rights it's mine! LOL let that be noted!!! Any Proceeds go to a caregiver party!!!! Yeah like we have time or energy to party.
I am not taking care of my Dad 24 hours a day, thank goodness, but I have been flying back and forth from the West Coast to the Mid-West every couple weeks to couple of months for the past year dealing with his care, his finances, my mother's illness, her death, her estate and on and on and on. When I am not there physically, I am on the phone or writing letters or emails dealing with insurance companies, lawyers, hospitals, doctors, accountants, care givers and so forth. I have not been able to have a regular job during all this time because I have had to pick up and go a a moments notice and stay however long is needed. Instead of being supportive my sister is hateful toward me and my Dad. My brother has just checked out... Sometimes I find myself wondering how long my Dad will live, hoping it will end sooner that later. Most of the people I know don't want to here about it, don't want to think about it and don't think it will ever happen to them. I am so glad to have this website to turn to... I read about people who are dealing with much worse situations than mine and are coping, even giving strenght and encouragement to others. I don't feel alone when I am with you all...
d, the next time someone criticizes the condition of your yard, ask them if they or someone they know can help you with it, because you are overwhelmed with caregiving. Better yet, ask them if they would be willing to sit with your Dad for a couple of hours so you can get it done. Inviting a neighbor over for coffee or tea for a couple of hours to visit, could let them in on what you do, and it might stir some compassion in them. No one knows the extent of care giving unless they do it:)
The reality is only other caregivers know what you are doing. Why don't these judging neighbors give you a hand with the snow and the yard.... This is a life saving sight, please continue to post and let us know how you are. And I agree with everyone , get some help if you can. You can not do this alone with out burning out and being of no use to yourself or your Dad. This is a hard job, and unless they try to get involved and help out, then what they think of you is none of your business. And by that I mean, people think what they want, especially when they have no idea what you are up against. It is ok to be cranky. get on here and we will all be cranky together. Laugh, support, no shame, no guilt, just acceptance. And we are never too busy to not set down and talk with our friends on this sight. Keeps us sane, and we are all like minded... you are doing a great job, and let us get to know you... you have found a safe place to have your feelings...
Let me explain further some recent issues:

My dad broke a tooth over the weekend and needed to get to his dentist Monday. I asked several people over the weekend if they might be available to take him but no one was able (everyone had other things, golf, cutting lawns, picking up kids at school). I really could not take further time off work (I've missed a lot over the past 3 months due to his many hospitalizations). Thankfully the dentist was able to give him an after hours appointment and I could take him. Also since this occurred over a weekend it was not possible to hire a caretaker for the day to take him.

Also, we do have a man who cuts the grass and does all the trim work weekly. Also have a man who plows our 200 foot driveway. (We have 1-1/4 acres) So, it's not like yard work is not being done at all. As an example, a neighbor just came over our property line and lined our fence with sand - to keep the weeds from coming on his property he says. He did not discuss this with us or ask permission - he just did it. Like I said the grass and trimming is done weekly so there really are not any weeds around the fence. This is the kind of thing I really do not have time to deal with and that I have trouble understanding. This is just rude and not neighborly. (note - neighbors have lived next us to 20 years and he's never once mentioned a possible problem).

Thanks for letting me vent. Brainstorming helps!!
I too am an only child of divorced parents and my dad's health recently required him to be in assisted living and I am literally all he has. He is a real challenge to deal with emotionally let alone physically, even before his health began to decline. Even though he is not in my home (my husband and he are NOT buddies) it is a real balancing act to be able to tend to the myriad of issues/problems/errands/appointments/emotional meltdowns for him and not let the stress interfere with family life and friendships, etc. While it is an important responsibility to care for our parents, if we cut ourselves off from those in our own lives, we put ourselves at risk. I think someone posted that you may wish to just let those around you know what you are going through. Otherwise, they have no way of knowing why you are short with them. I agree with what christina28 said. Just a thought. Take care.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support