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Do You Resent Your Senior Loved One? Learn More About Coping With Caregiver Anger
Caregiver anger is often treated as a genuine mental health condition that can strike even the most compassionate adult caring for another who suffers from a limiting health condition. It is a common issue among caregivers who provide assistance, support and care for aging elderly parents and spouses who struggle with memory issues such as Alzheimer’s or dementia along with a declining state of health.
While caregiver burnout is now a medically recognized condition, caregiver anger is a symptom of burnout that brings unwanted emotions such as resentment and guilt. Some family caregivers believe they need to be loving and compassionate 24/7 to provide a safe and committed home for their loved ones, but this is not possible in real life. After hours of dealing with the erratic behaviors associated with dementia and advanced age, even the most emphatic and compassionate caregiver will start to feel anger.
The one thing that you need to know is that you are not alone, and this too shall pass. Learning where your anger is coming from is the first step in learning how to deal with it successfully. The second step is understanding why you are angry so that you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable guilt and resentment resulting from your anger. With that in mind, let’s take a second to explain why caregivers get so angry and what you can do about it.
What Causes Caregiver Anger?
On the surface, it is easy to say that caregiver anger comes from a combination of exhaustion and frustration, but there is much more to it.
Fear: One of the most significant driving factors is fear, especially among those caring for an elderly spouse or parent with memory loss who is making unsafe decisions and deteriorating in front of your eyes. It is hard not to know what the future will hold and how long you have left with your loved one, which can drive anger.
Resentment and guilt: These are two very strong emotions that grow while caring for someone with memory loss, as the caregiver continually has to sacrifice to take care of their loved one leading to resentment, which then becomes guilt down the road. In addition, many people feel guilty watching a loved one cognitively deteriorate despite their continued efforts to do everything they can to care for them and preserve cognitive activities. This can also lead to frustration.
Emotional and Physical Exhaustion: Finally, caring for an adult daily is extremely hard emotionally and physically and leads to burnout, affecting your ability to reason. This leaves you more apt to lash out in anger or feel so out of control that anger is the only emotion you have left to utilize.
What Can You Do About Caregiver Anger?
Identify and Recognize Your Anger
The first step is to identify that you are dealing with unresolved anger as the result of any of the above situations. Still, now it is time to take action to avoid a meltdown and improve your mental health and the person you are caring for.
Write Your Feelings Down
Some people find that recording their feelings in a journal is an excellent way to unleash bottled emotions that are bubbling below the surface. Doing this regularly can help you control your emotions better during the days of caregiving.
Take Out Your Anger On a Pillow!
Once you have reached your mental toll for the day, there is no harm in letting your frustrations out, and it may be very therapeutic. Grab a pillow, kick it, punch it, scream into it! Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better. In the same regard, a big part of controlling your anger, stress, and frustrations is taking care of yourself, and a great way to do that is through regular physical fitness. Check out this blog we wrote about different ways to exercise while caregiving/raising your own families.
Others find that meeting with a weekly support group of others who can understand and relate is life-changing. Not only will you find support, but you may also gain insight that helps you become a better, more human caregiver.
Find Some Respite For Yourself and Your Loved One
Finally, it is essential to make sure that you have respite yourself. Caring for an aging loved one can be a full-time job, but you need a break here and there to ground yourself. Have friends or family over, and remember to care for yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and meditating. As a reminder, here at Tribute, we also offer respite care services should you or your senior loved one need more care than you can offer them. Schedule an appointment today to discuss the respite care services we offer.
We Are Here To Help
We hope that you have learned some ways to cope with caregiver anger and that you are better equipped to manage the stressful role of a family caregiver. We encourage you to join our support group for extra support from other caregivers just like you. We meet on the last Thursday of each month and will be hosting the event virtually for the time being. If you think it’s time your senior loved one seeks full-time care, please contact us for a consultation and book a tour of our amazing community.