It’s OKAY to feel frustrated and even angry.
Feeling angry as a caregiver is normal; however, you hold the potential to inflict unintentional harm without an appropriate outlet.
After my husband and I moved my father into our home, it was FUN for a while.
During his working years, my father was meticulous in his grooming. But his hygiene was never a priority. He’d shake hands, touch doorknobs in public places, do car repair, and then come inside to eat without washing his hands, until my mother reminded him.
While he lived with us, I wanted to enjoy his company; rather than “mother” him. Soon, the fall season brought the flu into our home and before I had realized what had happened, I caught it too.
While my husband juggled a Los Angeles commute and work for 13 hours each day, he soon came home to more work, caring for two people who were feeling miserable and not able to care for themselves. His father-in-law was of particular concern with a 104-degree fever.
Soon, I grew angry with my father for not being more cautious about cleanliness–he needed to wash his hands.
My words fell on deaf ears, literally. My father had profound hearing loss. Figuratively speaking, he didn’t remember due to dementia or because he conditioned himself to ignore my mother’s admonishments over the years.
I laugh, as I write about it now.
Most of the time, we had FUN with my father. When he smiled, being a caregiver was much easier. When my husband and I laughed, he laughed. Together, we tried to make the best of caring for his needs.
As his dementia symptoms grew worse, he became more disoriented and wandered nights while trying to leave the house at 2:00 or 3:00, most mornings.
We suffered from exhaustion due to lack of sleep. We couldn’t think straight most days. In fact, we feared we were getting Alzheimer’s trying to keep up with my father’s care!
Sometimes, we snapped at each other and other times, we were angry with my father–sometimes, for the most insignificant of reasons.
One time, when when my father couldn’t find his room, he demanded to know where it was.
My husband, David, volunteered to show him. I followed and pretended to strangle my father. David laughed at my uncharacteristic behavior. My father stopped and looked at David. Seeing him laughing, he turned to look at me. I quickly lowered my hands and smiled like a Cheshire cat. Soon, his face softened into a smile and then he began to laugh.
I couldn’t believe how quickly anger could turn into laughter!
It’s okay to get angry. Be sure to find an outlet for your anger.
If you’re getting angry too often, you’ll need help with caregiving.
Martyrs are not heroes. If in a sudden rage of anger, you inflict unintentional harm, you’ll be paying for it the rest of your life.
Instead, get help with caregiving so you can take a respite. Or walk away from the situation. Step outside. Punch a pillow. Anything, except doing something you didn’t mean to.
Remember why you became a caregiver and find an outlet for those times when you’re overwhelmed, running on fumes, and it feels like too much.