Often times caregivers are commended by others for giving up a normal life to take care of their disabled or elderly loved one, but there is actually another narrative not often discussed.
While the caregiver is taking time from their own lives to care for someone, that person could end up being ungrateful and burdening their caregivers. This situation is actually more common that you may think. Many caregivers have to deal with seniors who develop diseases that induce cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, which can cause personality changes, anger and even abuse towards the caregiver.
Loved ones who become disabled after tragic accidents or even veterans can become resentful towards caregivers and, thus, lash out from feeling invaluable and helpless. Often times, the caregiver’s feelings and mental and emotional state are swept under a rug while trying to tend to their loved one’s needs and making them happy to the point where they forget about caring for themselves.
Remember that your caregiver is not obligated to take care of you, but are caring for you out of the love and kindness of their hearts. Here are some ways you can show gratitude towards your caregiver and make them feel unburdened:
Give them some alone time: Even if they seem as if they are worrying over you, give them some space. Tell them that it is okay to relax when you feel that you are not in need at the moment. Sometimes caregivers burn themselves out by making you too dependent on them because they feel you need that much help, but this can actually have a negative effect by causing stress or depression. Encourage them to spend a day with friends or family or even by themselves to release strain and stress.
Don’t be resistant: Your loved one cares about you and only wants to help. Don’t make them feel resentful for helping you by being resistant to care from feeling guilty or as if you are losing your independence. Be gracious and grateful towards care, and you will be less likely to burden your loved ones.
Remember to say “thank you”: It is a simple phrase that holds a lot of meaning. Just by saying “thank you,” you are allowing your caregiver to feel as if what they are doing is not in vain. Brag about them to others and show appreciation for the wonderful job they’re doing. You would be surprised how far some simple gratitude can go.
Be clear about their role: Be clear that you want to be as independent as you can be and what you expect from their relationship. You still need their help, just without constant hovering, worrying or being treated as if you can’t do certain things alone or without their help. Act as a willing care recipient while also declaring independence and without being overly demanding.
Be aware of your emotions: Sometimes it is hard to mask anger over being disabled or feeling frail and helpless, and sometimes your emotions can become displaced and directed towards your caregivers. Check your emotions and process them in healthier ways through counseling, journaling or just talking with your family caregiver or a friend. Even if you do lash out, remember to apologize as to not make them feel reluctant for caring for you.
Remember to not feel guilty about receiving care. There is joy in both receiving and giving care by bringing family members closer together. Don’t burden your caregivers, but instead be grateful that you have someone who cares about you enough to care for you while you’re in need.