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."

Watch Leeza's advice on coping with a lack of appreciation.

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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.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

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.

See also:

When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends

When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help

Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

over 5 years, said...

Leeza's tips were helpful and I'm bookmarking them. I spent most of July and August being my mom's caregiver. My brother had been her main caregiver as he lived with her but when her health started to rapidly decline and she needed 24 hour around the clock care I pretty much moved in and helped around the clock. I went home 3 times in 6 weeks and I didn't stay home long maybe half a day and the night to take care of my own family needs and get a little respite. I'm going to bookmark these tips because I find that even though my mom has passed on I tend to go way overboard with worry, guilt, the need to feel appreciated and wanting to fix things with my children and grandchildren and sometimes instead of helping it makes things worse. I've learned in the last year (finally) that I can't fix everything for everyone and these tips and tricks will help me keep feeling positive about what I can and do achieve and letting go of the rest.

over 6 years, said...

These are very helpful suggestions especially looking at the big picture and thinking about how your loved one would react to your efforts if they were well. I took care of my mother who was diagnosed with emphysema. She progressively got worse and more angry. I think sometimes she just needed some way to vent the anger and I was the only one there. The rest of the family was staying away. Once I realized she was venting anger for being ill every day with no end in sight (from her perspective) I was able to deal with her harsh words. I stayed up all night for 18 months so I could check on her every 10 or 15 minutes throughout the night. I made coffee at 11 or 11:30 pm so I could stay awake. I was worried she would have an exacerbation during the night and panic or even worse, that she would die and I would find her in the morning. My mother did finally recover after suffering for more than 4 years. The therapies and treatments were all natural. Restoring her compromised immune system and intestinal flora after repeated doses of antibiotics, reducing excess inflammation and mucus production with natural supplements, taking away the pathogen's food supply that I believe is proliferating in the lungs of these patients and amplifying her immune response in accordance with cancer research I found at University of Nevada School of Medicine. I also found research at Mayo Clinic that helped and numerous books written by physicians that provide real answers and solutions to COPD, emphysema and other diseases. It is all being hidden by pharmaceutical drugs that don't work. If you want additional information about how I managed to completely reverse my mom's emphysema visit: and read the logic, diet and supplements pages. If you want the book with all the details my publisher sells it very reasonable but you don't need the book to begin recovery.