Is This Normal??

Caregiving stirs up so many emotions—emotions sometimes too embarrassing to acknowledge. You may wonder: Is this normal?

Take this quick test (just answer yes or no) to find out how normal your caregiving experience is:

1. I often long for the days prior to my caregiving role.

2. On a regular basis, I fight to maintain my composure.

3. Sometimes, I just dread interacting with my caree.

4. I often think I am not doing enough.

5. I feel shame about my emotions, particularly the resentment and anger.

6. I have wished that my caregiving days would end.

7. I have hidden from my caree (in another room, in my car, in the bathroom).

8. I am not the person I was.

9. I have lost my temper.

10. I am really, really tired.

Did you answer yes to any of the questions? To all of them?

Guess what? You’re normal!

Caregiving can test you unlike an other life experience. The emotions associated with a caregiving experience can be so negative—even if you really, really love your caree. These emotions can wear you down faster than the transfers you make from the bed to commode. To stay well emotionally, consider joining a support group, seeing a counselor, hiring a coach, or creating another way for you to vent regularly about what’s really happening.

The worst part about your caregiving challenges? Keeping it to yourself. Find a safe haven to be who you are.

12 thoughts on “Is This Normal??

  1. Edie Dykeman

    What a list! Unfortunately, I had to say yes to all of them. As caregiver to my soon-to-be 87-year-old father for the past three years, my emotions are all over the place. Just in the last month I have been hit with extreme fatigue, and I am having a very difficult time turning that around.

    Having a love/hate relationship with a parent who is in the situation they are in through no fault of their own other than longevity takes its toll after a while. If I was in a negative mood and something happened to Dad, I would be devastated. But, trying to remain positive at all times is impossible. What a quandry we find ourselves in, but I know I am where I’m supposed to be at this season of my life. I know it will all work out in the end.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Yes, I can relate to your situation, only with my mother. She is not living with us but she might as well be. I think we do our very best when need arises, and although we are not perfect but human, we feel guilty when we can’t do more. My reply would be to look after yourself, don’t feel quilty about hiding, which I do sometimes, because the time away if only for a few moments, is the correct thing to do to give some breathing time.
      It is not an easy job and we take it on as a job. We do love our people but we should also love ourselves. Whatever we give to others should also be given to ourselves.

      Reply
  2. eva

    i know just what you going through. BEEN CAREGIVER FOR THREE YEARS LAST 18 MONTHS FULLTIME SINCE MOM MOVED IN WITH US.AND SPOUSE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PARKINSON DR.MOMS ALZHIMERS IS GETTING WORSE.AND I SOME TIMES JUST WANT TO RUN FROM MY RESPONSABILITIES. THEN I SEE MOM SO FRAIL N SPOUSE LOOKING SO SAD AT ME IT MAKES ME FEEL SO GUILTY FOR MY NOT CARIG MORE FOR THEMM.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Hi Eva,
      You really have a load to carry. I think that your feelings are very normal. I think all of us who are caregivers share these emotions. I take care of my mother who is 91 and an amputee and my brother who has had a stroke. It gets really hard sometimes. Mom always tries to keep a good attitude, but sometimes gets down because of hurting all the time; my brother can be a real curmudgeon at times and hard to deal with and then his situation really hits him and he goes off in his room and will cry for hours. I feel tired, guilty and all of the above, too.
      All I can say is that I understand.

      Reply
  3. Profile photo of Karen Anobile

    I’ve only been doing this a few weeks and still have hope that most of this confusion is reversible. I feel it’s delirium but everyone sees an 80 year old woman and concludes it’s dementia. I’m a mental health professional (nurse practitioner) and can’t hold it together. I’m the only one in town. Dad died almost 5 years ago. I was his caregiver too but them Mom was 100% and more live a secondary caregiver. I scored 8 out of 10 on this quiz. I’ve lost my temper. I am so ashamed of myself.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of DeniseDenise Post author

      Hi Karen–I just had a conversation last week with a colleague about health professionals who are also family caregivers. We decided it’s a horrible situation to have–simply because you have such high expectations for yourself. You may believe that you *must* know how to manage and cope because it’s your job. In a family situation, though, it’s completely different. If I may offer one suggestion: Start over. :) Start fresh tomorrow with the perspective that, as a daughter, you are a facing a challenging situation. And, write it out to us (let me know if you want to start blogging). Everyone here understands how hard this is and how hard it is to be patience and maintain your composure. We’re here to support you.

      Reply
  4. Profile photo of Karen Anobile

    Thanks so much. After my dad died in 2008 (He had brain cancer for 2 years and 9 months), I went to a bereavement support group for those whose parents died. The group leader said the same thing about me being a nurse and a family caregiver. She said it was horrible that I couldn’t just be a daughter. The other day when my sister was here, I lost patience with my mom repeating over and over about wanting to be in bed. My sister called my other sister and both said to me, “You should treat your mother with the same respect as you treat your patients. You wouldn’t act like that towards a patient. Don’t act like that toward Mom.” Thank you for your kind words. I will make tomorrow a new day. I will make another attempt to get what I need from the mess that is called the healthcare system in this country. If my mom wants to spend most of the day in bed, I guess it’s better than being angry with her for not listening to my expert advice to avoid pneumonia and bedsores. I’m tired.

    Reply
  5. Profile photo of Sunshine=Sometimes

    Hi Karen,
    Try and take Denise’s advice! Remember to start today anew and try to be a daughter. It takes its toll doesn’t it?

    Reply
  6. Profile photo of Karen Anobile

    Thanks so much, everyone. I did start today fresh, as a daughter. Your words help so much. I will participate like crazy.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of DeniseDenise Post author

      Good for you!!! One day at a time and, sometimes, one minute at a time. And, any time you need it, give yourself a fresh start.

      Reply

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