I have been a caregiver for my mom for about 2 years now. How do I make my co-workers understand how traumatic it is, watching a LO decline?


They are in their early to mid 20s, and early 30s, and have only experienced this with grandparents, thus far in their own lives.

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You can't.

When you go to work, you're supposed to leave your home-life behind and concentrate on work.

Not really sure why you feel they have to understand?  Even given your profession - I was 'taught' that the workplace is not the place to air your home laundry.

You can apologize for your errors and say that you are stressed but working at it - but you cannot make someone understand or be sympathetic.
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Ah. That does put a slightly different complexion on it :)

Given the nature of your work, then, it's not unreasonable to expect your co-workers to have a broader understanding of family dynamics than normal. And if they haven't, maybe this could be a good learning opportunity for them. An insight into stress factors they perhaps haven't considered before would do them no harm at all professionally.

How are things in general between you and this one especially impatient person? Is he or she the sort you could sit down with over coffee?
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My one co-worker gets impatient with some mistakes I've been making on the job. Some of them have been due to just different styles of getting things done, and a few have been honest errors, albeit stupid ones, that I truly should have known better than to make, and likely would not have made, if not for being distracted by my (personal) caregiving responsibilities as well. I am also a professional caregiver of sorts, as I work with troubled youths in residential settings. I strongly believe that most of this is due to burnout, as self-care has never been a strength of mine. Thanks to all of you for your answers and your support. Happy Holidays.
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Dear Donna,

I am sorry to hear how your co-workers lack of understanding is hurting you. I know we all wish everyone would have more compassion and sensitivity, but sometimes it is harder with younger colleagues. Its not their fault they just haven't been through the same experiences. I think it would be futile to help them understand.

Best to focus on yourself and your loved one. I find being a caregiver is tough enough without trying to make others understand. I tried with my own family but it only made me more angry and resentful when they thought I was being over sensitive and demanding. In hindsight, I should have just let it go and focused on my father's care. I needed to look for support elsewhere. Please take care of yourself. Thinking of you.
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Donna, I agree with the above answers. I used to notice people in their forties/fifties etc. out in the middle of the day with what I assumed were their elderly parents. My first thought, and it was a negative one I'll admit, was maybe they were lowlifes sponging off Mom and Dad. But now since I've gone through the caregiving experience I realize that I should have been thinking "but for the grace of God, there go I" cause fast forward a few years and that person was me.

I think like most things in life, you can't say I know how you feel until you've felt it. Thus why your co-workers don't and couldn't understand. They can try to imagine how it would be but probably have no idea and won't until they someday experience it themselves. Plus some people, not many but the odd few sail through the caregiving experience without a care in the world. Ya gotta envy those ones.
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Exactly so.

When these young people have ageing parents of their own, they may look back and realise what you were going through.

Right now, how could they possibly understand what it's like?

There is a brilliant Joyce Grenfell monologue (mistake to think she was all light comedy - she described the human condition in all its forms) of a woman on the 'phone to her date, calling him to cancel because she can't leave her dad. If you can find that, and other things like it, you might make them think.

But rather as with having a baby, and as Dorianne says, you have to have done it to know how it feels.
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I'm not sure why you need to teach them. Are they feeling resentful about you taking time off for caregiving or something?

I don't think anyone really understands it until they've experienced it anyway.
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