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Resentment – The Caregiver’s Greatest Enemy

December 9th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Many people liken being a caregiver to their aging parents as a relatively difficult battle they must face on a daily basis. If you have ever engaged in war with someone, on the battlefield or not, you understand the pressure and fatigue that can set in during the duration of the battle. However, if you are a caregiver there is an even bigger enemy, and that is resentment!

Although you love your elderly parents and feel that you are committed to their health, happiness and wellbeing, and you are doing everything within your power and resources to make their last days as good as can be expected, the wear and tear on your time, emotions, and body, or the time away from your immediate family, can send your emotions raging in another direction.

What is resentment?

Webster’s Dictionary defines resentment as, “A feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.”

When we resent someone or something that is occurring in our life, we feel or express annoyance or ill will at whatever we resent. When we spend hours, days, weeks, and even longer caring for someone that we may or may not have had a good relationship with in the beginning of this process, we resent the fact that we do not have the freedom to enjoy our life as we desire. We often feel like we are missing out on some of our most important years.

Not all caregiving began with love!

As anyone who has ever visited caregiver forums has probably noticed, there are a number of adult children who are caring for a parent or two that didn’t even have good feelings for their parents to begin with. How difficult it is for them to keep up a daily, loving caregiver routine without expressing strong negative feelings in some manner.

Resentment can get into your mind and cause you to begin brooding about things before you even know it’s happening. But it’s an insidious enemy because if that resentment comes to full fruit, it will damage your willingness and ability to take care of your aging parent and seriously hurt your ability to be a caregiver at all.

What is causing your resentment?

Some of the resentment might be toward the very systems that are supposed to help your parent. The Social Security and Medicare systems are constantly changing and becoming more complex each time some politician decides to use Social Security as a political tool.

Resentment can also build up toward the facility where your parent is living if you feel your dad or mom is not getting the kind of care they need. Or the medical establishment in general when they quickly slide over your mother or father’s concerns just to get you out of their office.

The worst kind of resentment

But the worst kinds of resentment are those you feel toward your siblings or toward the very aging parent that you are there to help. This is a serious problem because if you come to resent those you love the most, that resentment can very deeply and seriously hurt your ability to continue in the struggle to help your parent as best you can.

It’s easy to resent your siblings because you may have the job of primary caregiver just because you didn’t move far enough away or you gave in to family pressure or desires. But the resentment you feel toward your aging parent is easy to give in to because it comes from how needy they are and how often they seem demanding and ungrateful for what you are trying to do.

So, how do you beat resentment?

To overcome resentment, you have to go back to why you are doing this in the first place. You are not doing it for your siblings and you are not even doing it for your mother or father to be honest about it. You are doing it because they took care of you when you were little and because it’s the right thing to do. And as long as you stay grounded to what is the real purpose of this mission, then you can fight this war and win it for yourself, for your parent and for everyone else that loves him or her as well.

Tags: Caregivers · Elder Care


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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rachel // Oct 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    If this isn’t the biggest crock of crap I’ve read about caregiver resentment, then I don’t know what is. Resentment and anger are normal feelings encountered in the course of daily caregiving. Harkening back to the old rag “it’s the right thing to do!” isn’t helping anybody. Neither is the implication, “don’t get your panties in a twist and do the job like a good little girl.” You don’t even provide any coping techniques for caregivers. This is not good advice.

    Resentment that is pent up is a much greater risk factor in caregiver burnout (and subsequent quitting) than resentment that is seen as normal and vented to a sympathetic ear.

  • 2 Edie // Oct 18, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Rachel, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve been a caregiver to my elderly father for seven years now and I can assure you resentment is real. I know from my own experience and the comments and conversations I’ve had with other caregivers. We actually have provided coping techniques for caregivers in numerous other articles, but can provide them again. I appreciate your comments and thank you for sharing with us.

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