I have been home taking care of my mom with dementia for 2 years now, and just this past week started back to my old job and my problem is, the boss and co workers don't think I should have taken the timeout for my parents and even seem angry that I did. My mom was bedridden from hospital stay for 8 mos., and my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on hospice. I would have stayed at work if I could and had the help but I didn't and I just didn't see my poor dad changing my mom or taking care of her wounds when he was left with no energy. He tried changing my mom one day and I saw him try his hardest and he just couldn't. It was the scariest I've ever seen. How life changes so fast. But anyways back to no compassion. I've heard a few say that they would have never quit their job and it was dumb to do because we have children and everyone is faced with it but would not go to that extreme. I love being Me, and I don't regret my decision but I hate all the critisism. I am at a loss of words for these people. I just couldn't do it. Yes, I have children but I also love my parents. I just don't get people. Yes my annual salary cannot be recovered but my heart is full of love and compassion and patience and that came with my role as caregiver. I still take care of my mom , she lives with me but I had to get some insurance for me and my family. I am 40 yrs young and my mom is still at home with me and family but I haven't left my caregiver badge because I am still a big part in this. A price too few, people will pay but it doesn't mean I am not the same person. Well I am but far more better qualities then before. I just hate the finger pointing and the misunderstanding that I (took a long vacation). but by all means it has never been a vacation. Any caregiver will back me up on this one. Our pay does not come in monetary form but spiritual. But why do people shrug it off like it's no big deal? Just wondering if anyone has advice or been through what I am going through

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Years ago I worked with someone who was returning to her career after a 2-year absence when she moved to another state to take care of her mentally ill sister. I definitely didn't criticize her but I wasn't quite sure I understood her, either. I saw that it was a struggle for her to fit back into the work place.

Fast forward a bunch of years. My husband developed dementia. I stayed home to care for him the first year, worked from home after that, and again stopped working when he went into hospice care.

I realize now that if you haven't been through it, (or at least seen someone go through it up close and personal) you really can't comprehend what caregiving an adult is like. Your co-workers are probably not mean-spirited or lacking in compassion. They are just ignorant. Some of them someday may face decisions you had to make, and they may decide in ways they don't anticipate now.

I don't think that the career sacrifice is a price too few will make. This forum is ample evidence that huge numbers of people do make this sacrifice everyday. You don't happen to work with them right now.

You made a decision. You are satisfied with it. You would make the same decision again. Don't let it bother you if others don't understand it. You don't need words for these people. You certainly don't need to justify yourself. You might say something like "Yes, it really is hard to understand until you are faced with the situation."
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I have given this question a lot of thought over the past few months, especially as I find myself in a position where I am increasingly more and more invisible with everyone around me.
Nobody wants to know how we are because to ask us if we are doing ok demands that they actually listen to the answer which is NO, I am DROWNING, I need your HELP. They don't want to help, convince themselves that what they do is enough, and cannot ask if you need help, because what if, God forbid, you actually say Oh Yes Please.
It is easier to not see us, ignore us, negate us, devalue us, because then they don't have to feel guilty for NOT doing it in their own situations. Its denial ... of themselves, of the situation, of us.
Everyone's focus is on the "poor old man" but nobody has ever asked me if I am doing ok with it all. It has gotten very close to me packing my bags and leaving, and then of course, everyone will then say how awful and terrible I am to walk out and leave them to have to make new arrangements.... which at that point will be putting him in AL, because nobody else will take him into their home.
Its guilt. Its denial. And its "Oh thank God somebody else is doing it so I don't have to".
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My suggestion is to stop worrying about what others think. You're back at work now and all you owe your boss is 8 fruitful hours on the job. He may not understand what caregiving entails or even care about it, and that's his right. Just be careful that you aren't preoccupied with other things or talking about it so much you aren't doing the work.
You chose to care for your parents and you feel you did what was best. Others may not choose the same path for themselves. Every situation is unique and therefore not open for judgement from others...opinions yes, judging never. Life is full of the "judges" and the "judgees". If you feel you are being judged at work then don't talk about your private life. If you don't want to hear the opinions of others then don't share the information. Talk about the weather but don't share things that others could pick apart. It's rude of them, yes, but you can't expect them to feel the way you do. Besides, these are your precious parents you're talking about and your co-workers don't and can't feel the same about them as you do. Your parents appreciate you and that's all that matters.
One of the best rewards, for me, as I age is my ability to care very little what others think. It has been a freedom I enjoy. I live my life, I let others live theirs. My mistakes and my choices are mine. I try never to judge because I've been judged unmercifully over time and it doesn't feel good. Ive finally learned what to share and with whom (big lesson learned). I can't please everyone and I don't expect others to please me. I guess I finally became that duck my old boss told me about, you know, the one that let's it roll off its back.
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Hi Mmendez,
Personally ,I think, people who criticize other people's choices -especially about something so personal, do it out of their own guilty conscious. Perhaps your co -workers feel guilty because they could not make the same level of dedication as you did and it weighs on them and , unfortunately, they try and make it seem like it was a "dumb" choice to make themselves feel better. Maybe next time someone says something like that just remind them that you are happy with your decision and don't regret it at all though you know not everyone would do the same. Good luck.
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Don't waste your energy on negative responses. You did what you had to do and what was right for you to do; furthermore, your company gave you a leave of absence to do what you needed to do, and frankly if it is okay with them it should be okay with you. You are adept at taking care of business and taking care of the reality of caregiving, use your skill in seeing things for what they are and not how you wish they were and remember it is just a job. Do your job, that is what you are there for, not to make friends or even make nice, just do your job and be professional and pleasant. When people ask impertinent questions I have found responding with "why do you ask." usually shuts them right up. You owe no one an explanation, find your emotional support outside of your work place and do not explain yourself to anyone. I have found a great truism in that what goes around comes around. Judge not lest ye be judged, and haven't you found in your own life this to be true? Take care of yourself first, your five kids, husband, and your mom. Remember stupid is as stupid does, do not waste your time, and emotion on things that don't matter, use your energy and emotions on what matters most to you.
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Hands on caregiving isn't for everyone, but those that chose should be applauded with the respect they deserve.
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You are a beautiful person and I am doing the same thing, it has been 6 years now that my mom has lived with me I am now 53, she has dementia along with many other diseases and I take care of her 24 hours a day, my husband has asked for a divorce so now I am going to go through that also, I feel exactly like you do, My mom comes first and I will take care of her till she is called home to be with God. I made sure in our legal agreement that mom and I stay in the house until she went to a skilled nursing facility or passed on, he was so sure that she would qualify for skilled nursing that he agreed well they turned her down and said she qualified for assisted living but does not make enough to pay for that and I don't have anything, I have major depression and high axiety, so all I can do is care for her, now even though we will be getting a divorce, he has to pay the mortage upkeep and utilies on ths home we will be living in, what goes around comes around, I have siblings but no one helps, it all falls on me, but that is ok, I know in my heart I am doing the right thing, and in the end we will be rewarded in Heaven. Like you I think to many people are wrapped up in their own lives and don't care about others, it is so sad to see that this is what our world has come to, just know you are not alone, and reading yours makes me feel good and I know I am not alone, if you would like to write or talk to me my email is ejbunicorn at, will keep you and your mom in my prayers, May God bless you and keep you always, emma
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I have no advice for you, because in your role as a family caregiver, you are not, in the eyes of the society a productive person. You don't merit a salary or benefits, don't have an important title or a big office, things people value as important measures of success and worthy or respect. Who, if they could do something else, would take a job which requires hard work under stressful and isolated conditions, no relief shift, long hours, no benefits and by the way, no pay either?

We live in a two faced society: we pretend to value family, yet we don't give any value to caregivers who do the family value work.. Our economy is based on creating more useless products purchased from other countries that in short time break down or become outdated. Not on caring about others.

Family members caring for the sick and elderly should be given work credit for what they do in the form of government contributions toward their social security retirement and health insurance funds. Without many caregivers tolling for free, there would be many more people in nursing homes on Medicaid. Yes, I'm saying our "productive" working friends and families should be contributing to our future benefits b/c we are working for free so they can work for money. Our USA economy should focus on "products" needed that represent our values, like buliding and staffing reasonably priced but quality assisted living facilities and subsidized senior housing and ensuring that those who are paid to work as aides caring for the elderly and disabled are hired in sufficient numbers in facilities so they are not overworked and those who work in our homes are provided decent wages and health insurance. If our society doesn't care enough to make sure paid aides get decent benefits, why should they care at all about the unpaid family caregivers like us?

I live in a city where there are tons of vacant store spaces, yet, what are they building? more commercial shopping centers.They are years long waiting lists for elderly to get meals and decent affordable senior and assisted living housing or some in home state subsidized care. When a new assisted living facility is built, it is priced out of reach of the average retiree. I fear what's going to happen in the future is that when baby boomers retire because they have tried to focus on their families and haven't had the ability to accumulate a big enough nest egg , they are not going to be able to afford a place to live and receive care in their final years.

Soon we will be like a country like China with ghost towns like those featured on 60 minutes recently and laws needed to make children take care of their parents.
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I am sorry:( I have this problem with some of my own family.They just don't get it.Some are scared of the situation and uncomfortable with it.You are doing a hard need support.
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People do not understand what us Caregivers go through. Until they walk in our shoes; they will never know. My siblings don't understand, because I have been the sole Caregiver for 2 disabled parents. My siblings live 1500 miles away. It takes a special person to be a Caregiver. We give up a lot of things to help those we love.
Those who don't have compassion for us Caregivers are those who don't understand. If someone doesn't understand. Tell them to walk a mile in your shoes; then see what they have to say. I tell my siblings this all the time. They are mean and selfish. I am the youngest and the "Mom" of the group. Go figure!
But just remember; you are doing an amazing job. Keep your head held high, because God knows what you are doing.
Those who can't understand, better hope someone will help them if they are ever in the same situation.
God Bless You!!!
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