The Importance of Boundaries

Kristen Roden

The Importance of Boundaries

Kristen Roden

I imagine we've all felt it. We start caring for a loved one, and next thing we know, we are not only shouldering all their health needs, but also feel responsible for their comfort. For their happiness. For their mood. We feel guilty for carrying out an act in haste, for making a blunt comment, for offending the person we're caring for when we have a different priority.

I struggle with setting boundaries quite a bit. Caring for my husband, I want him to be happy and comfortable yet these are things I cannot always control, nor should I have to. We all have to deal with inconveniences and life as it is; I have to repeatedly tell myself it is not my job to be sure he is happy. If he wants to stay up late but I need rest, I can draw that line and say, "I'm going to bed." I can say, "I need to get out of this house," and find someone else to care for him during that time. I can outsource care he'd rather I do, despite who he'd "prefer" helps. I can refuse to make him cookies when I have a different list of priorities, no matter how strong his craving.

I debate internally whether doing things his way is an act of love on my part, or an act of compliance. I know I avoid conflict, and I'd rather just do something to appease someone than put up a fight, especially when I'm already struggling with fatigue. Learning to say NO is something I'm still... well, learning!

Setting boundaries is something I know I need to keep working on because it is a huge part of self care and self compassion!

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Oldlamplighter

This is an interesting message for caregivers, and applies well for caregivers and those in their care who still have their mental faculties. As the years have passed and my mother’s dementia has gotten progressively worse, boundaries have simply fallen away. I have had to sacrifice more and more and give up more of my life. But I do it in love and devotion. But I have to fight off feeling alone in this and even bitter and resentful at times.\r\n\r\nI absolutely have to get time for myself — at least two hours during the day and late at night. Thankfully we are able to have part-time home health aides, all of whom are like family since they have been with us so long. \r\n\r\nMy mother is only minimally aware of the effect on me of 24-hour a day caregiving to meet ALL of her needs. When I have to constrain her needs and emotional demands, I am often met with hostility and anger and physical resistance. She doesn’t comprehend why I have to say no. The key for me in keeping my sanity is drawing deeply on my reserves of inner strength, my faith in God (feeble and often weak as it is) and applying the lessons from the suffering I have experienced in my life. And, I realize that all my mother and I have suffered through together in this journey through dementia and caregiving (for 10 years now) has made me stronger and wiser, and the heavy sacrifice more bearable. \r\n\r\nThank you for sharing here. You have embarked on a long and arduous journey, but I feel that with your positive and realistic approach to caregiving, you and your family will conquer the obstacles you face. \r\n\r\nI look forward to reading more of what you post here and on your Wordpress blog.