Caregiver Confessions: When You Don't Feel Appreciated
Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there
Caregivers focus on giving, not getting. It's the nature of the job. Even so, it's only natural to sometimes feel taken for granted by those you're helping, or to feel like your efforts are making no difference.
"Making a difference motivates women," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, who founded the Leeza's Place communities for caregivers after her late mother developed Alzheimer's disease. "When you don't see improvement or think that your loved one values your time and energy, it's really rough."
Here are more tips:
Think about what your loved one would think of your efforts if he or she were perfectly healthy. Battling illness requires a lot of self-focus and takes a lot out of your loved one. Getting positive feedback is especially difficult with a disease like Alzheimer's, where there's little discernable improvement and the person with the disease is incapable of articulating thanks. Remind yourself that your loved one, if able, would express gratitude for all you do.
Keep your eye on the big picture. If you wait for positive reinforcement for every little thing, you'll be waiting a long time. Instead, remind yourself of the overall good you're doing.
Lower the bar of your own expectations. What you're doing is making a difference -- just perhaps not as big a difference as you hoped. You may not be able to cure your loved one's disease, but providing a safe, comfortable day is huge.
Look inward for reward if you can't get it by looking outward. Applaud your own efforts by being good to yourself. Self-care helps fuel you for the tough stretches.