It is no surprise that difficult family dynamics can affect a caregiver’s attitude. For people who have been brought up by loving parents who took care of all their needs, providing the same degree of care may simply be second nature. But what if you have been negatively affected by childhood experiences and have resolved to distance yourself from difficult members of the family later in life, simply to end up returning to provide care for them in a period of need?
- Develop emotional boundaries. It is possible to give compassionate care while remaining emotionally detached. Visualize tending to the needs of someone you’ve never met, and try to hold that mindset with a difficult member of the family. Attempt to keep personal feelings and hurts out of the equation while meeting his / her care needs with compassion.
- Separate the past from today. While your family member might have demonstrated a pattern of behavior causing you anguish in the past, perhaps with angry outbursts or deprecating comments, it is important to differentiate that pain from today’s struggles. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s might go through a stage of aggressive behavior that is a hallmark struggle of this disease, rather than a continuation of parenting mistakes.
- Start to change what you expect. Some members of the family move into a caregiving role with the aim of changing the course of a relationship, convinced that if perhaps they forget about past hurts and give the best possible care, the family member will be transformed into someone loving, kind and considerate after a lifetime of difficulties. The stark reality is fairytale endings are rare. Keeping expectations realistic may help reduce potential future disappointments.
First and foremost, understand that no one needs to feel “stuck” in looking after a difficult family member. The professional Orange County home care team at CareWorks Health Services is fully trained, experienced, and equipped to offer skilled and compassionate care, which allows family caregivers peace of mind. A few of the many ways we are able to help include:
- Personal care assistance, such as with bathing, dressing, and using the toilet
- Preparing meals
- Keeping the home environment neat and organized
- Running errands
- Providing transportation to health-related appointments along with other outings
- And more