How to stay sane when you are a caregiver for a difficult person
In an ideal world, the person you provide care for would be thankful and happy to have you in their life, caring for their personal, physical and emotional needs. Unfortunately, in the real world, sometimes being a caregiver is hard. Your caree may be angry that they need care or struggling with pain or frustration over their new situation, making you their easiest target. Or, maybe they weren’t very pleasant to begin with and you are stepping up regardless of their disposition.
It can take an emotional toll on caregivers when the person they are caring for is difficult. It is hard enough taking the time to care for someone else’s needs and giving so much of your energy to others. When your caree is ungrateful, angry or emotionally abusive, it takes caregiving to a whole new level.
There is no other time to remind yourself that “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Their behavior is not indicative of the person you are. There are other issues coming in to play that are their issues, not yours. While you can’t change their behavior, you can change your reaction so that it doesn’t alter your mood.
Bad moods can be contagious and it can be easy to go to a dark place when someone you are close to is in a dark space. If you find yourself sinking into depression, consider seeking out a counselor or support group. You don’t have to allow your caree to destroy your emotional well-being. You can do your best to help them out of their negative space, but don’t go down that path together.
Tips to Deal with an Angry or Emotional Abusive Caree
- Accept that it’s not you, it’s them.
- Don’t take it personally.
- Redirect: If you can, change the subject or distract your caree from what is angering them.
- Acknowledge them: Sometimes your caree just wants to be heard. It can be hard going from managing your own life to having someone else step in because you are no longer able to do so. Just listening to them and letting them know that you hear them and understand may go a long way.
- Get help: If the behavior change is new, consider speaking to their primary care physician. The change could be related to a new condition, a medical side effect, sleep issues, etc. If they have suffered from bouts of depression in the past, reach out to their therapist.
- Get support: If you are the only person providing care for your loved one, reach out to your family and friends to get others on board. Don’t discount grandkids. A high school student can prepare a meal for their grandparent and keep them company while you go to a coffee shop with a magazine.
- Find outlets for them: If your parent is angry or depressed due to loss of family or friends, consider helping them out of isolation. Just having things to look forward to can improve their mood.
- Stand up for yourself: You are not a punching bag. No matter how much you love someone and want to provide them care, you need to take care of yourself first. Tell your loved one that you love them but you will not accept this type of behavior. If they are not willing to treat you better, you will be forced to leave and they will need to find another care source. This of course, is easier said than done, but ideally, the person you love is still in there and will realize that they are hurting you.
Caring for others is hard. Caring for someone who is angry or emotionally abusive takes it to a whole new level. Be kind to yourself. Don’t allow their negativity to bring you down. Find ways to care for yourself and give yourself much-needed breaks.
Here are a few links that can help you and your caree manage health and well-being issues:
Keeping the parent/child bond as the caregiver