5 Coping Strategies When You Feel Resentful About Caregiving

If you've ever felt resentful about the hand you've been dealt, you're not alone. Resentment is, unfortunately, a hush-hush emotion among caregivers, but it's all too common.

And why not? Your life has been hijacked by someone else's debilitating condition that consumes your time, your physical energy, and your mental energy while stealing away a beloved relationship -- and you have no training or preparation! Of course you feel some resentment.

What helps:

1. Give yourself permission to hold conflicting feelings.

"I love, but I resent" or "I give, yet I resent," is the first step toward finding peace with a difficult but natural feeling.

2. Step back to take a big-picture view.

An individual day or week (or even year) may stink, but the entire arc of life isn't all bad. Try to remember the good that came before caregiving and the good that will come during and after.

3. Remember it's what you resent more than who.

Even if your relationship isn't, or hasn't been, great with the person in your care, chances are good that what's really rankling you is the situation, the dementia. Making it less personal makes it easier to cope.

4. Let it out.

Resentment is a tricky emotion to confess to others, because there's a social stigma, for some, about caregivers feeling anything but angelic and generous. This is where a trusted friend comes in, or even an online stranger who's been there. They understand.

5. Control what you can.

You can't control the course of the disease or how your loved one is affected. You can direct, to some extent, what kind of help you have, how often you can get away, and how well you take care of yourself, including getting sufficient sleep.


about 1 year ago, said...

this is very general and vague. how do you "convince" a family caregiver to take time for one's self? what steps does one take to resolve the resentments? how and when do you recognize that the resentment is affecting the care given? at what point is it necessary to change caregiver?


over 1 year ago, said...

A-Jude: I can TOTALLY relate to your story. While my sister and I were not sent away, we were never nurtured, or attended to as we should have been - by either of our parents. And that leaves a hole, with unresolved anger and hurt - no doubt about it. In fact, I clearly recall the 'jury being deadlocked' when in a discussion group of adults, all of us with elderly, frail parents who now suffer from dementia at various stages, this question was tossed back and forth, QUITE explosively: 'do you in fact have a responsibility to look after a parent with dementia, who was abusive/neglectful/cruel to you when you were a child?" There was no clear answer, by the way, but this is where a support group is crucial: You are absolutely ALLOWED to be angry about this. Your parent failed you - big-time. Talk about it. Weep about it. Scream about it. Hey I still fight with mother. In fact yesterday we had a major scream up. Day by day her dementia worsens, and I sometimes flash back momentarily, to myself as a scared ten year old, forced to endure her harshness and toxic, unreasonable rages. But the difference is: Today, I possess what I did not, back then: sufficient ego strength, self esteem and wonderful contemporaries who understand and value me. THAT is what will help you get through this - if you can stand firm, it will also be your finest hour!!! Be strong. Stay well, friend.


over 1 year ago, said...

The truth is that when I needed my mother the most (aged 6yrs) she put me and my younger sister (4yrs) into a children's home. When finally we were taken home she still wasn't there for us. I have resented this for all my life and when she came to me I thought that I had a chance to restore what had been lost and to a point we have but now as the decease worsens the resentment is returning. Each time I think that I will put her in a nursing home the feelings of from my own abandonment return and I can't do it to her.


over 2 years ago, said...

I was chatting with a neighbor recently. We like to catch up on the latest news and give each other cheer. Her husband has in fact, mid-stage fronto temporal dementia. Early on, however, he was mis-diagnosed as having Alzheimers, which meant he did not receive the proper care for some time. Fortunately, a curious Doctor decided to look deeper and discovered Jim's actual medical challenge, at which point things improved significantly: they were able to treat the illness he HAD, not what they THOUGHT he had. And Jane also said that her support group was Heaven-sent. She gets to cry, to share, to express ehr emotions. And has formed some fast friendships, people she can call upon when there are days when it is all 'just too much". A family physician or social worker can refer a family member to local support groups; they can be found online, or a chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. I urge people to reach out, and keep doing so. When I read comments from people who are overwhelmed by caregiving for someone with these illnesses, my heart goes out to them. But I encourage them to do everything they can to seek help. It's out there. And bless your efforts!


over 2 years ago, said...

A caregiver support group could help "letting it out".


over 2 years ago, said...

I've seen this article before and I agree with what it says, but I need more concrete guidelines re #5. When you don't have family nearby and friends don't call to see how you're doing or come by to visit, and you have no one to leave your beloved with, how do you plan a getaway. I would love even 24 hours by myself or with a friend to have some fun. After three years of caregiving so far, I don't know how to make it happen. All suggestions are welcome. Many thanks.


over 2 years ago, said...

Dear annonymous,whose Dad had Lewey Boddy . So true what you said. I know when my Mom is gone, I will miss her because caring for her was such a huge part of my life. She is in skilled care now at a wondreful nursing home, but I still see her 4 to 5 days a week. I am the only person she will let bath her, so I do it because it helps her not be agitated and upset. She thinks I live there too!


over 2 years ago, said...

My heart hurts for you. I know your feelings of both resentment when they are here and the feeling of emptiness after they are gone. Prayer and some time trying to find where YOU are in life will help, but it never goes completely away.


over 2 years ago, said...

There were times I felt resentment because I totally gave up the last 7 years of my life caring for my father, with my mother's constant help. It took the 2 of us. I always promised I would take care of him and keep him at home. My resentment....1st at his disease, Lewy Body. When i would get upset. ..sometimes angry or harsh words to my Dad.....and later cry my Dad ALWAYS hugged me and consoled me. Until the end. 2nd my resentment was for my 2 brothers....One who "vanished " 10 yrs. ago....but more so the one who DID help SOMETIMES. Because his"LIFE" went on ( work, social activities, girlfriend, sporting & community events) like normal but he TELLS everyone that he takes care of Dad. When he stays for a couple hrs on Sat. afternoon so I can leave with my Mom and get some air he doesn't even TALK to my Dad. Just sits and watches TV or plays on his computer. My 3rd resentment. ..my Dad left me 4 weeks ago. He 's gone.And I miss him so much and want him back. He is how I spent my days. I slept by his bed for years and next to his hospital bed on the couch the last 4 months of his life. I miss his hugs. His smile. His constantly wanting me around and calling me to be sure I didn't go antwhere. So people....channel your resentment. Comes a day when your world changes. For me there is no relief. Just loneliness .and a broken heart.


over 2 years ago, said...

I have two distinct AD situations in my life: my dear friend Kitty, to whom I am not related in any way. I go and visit her at the nursing home where, in late stage, she is being well looked after. However, her daughter Sandra pre-deceased her, and years before - we fought - about a pass key to the house when she was traveling and, her mom was still able to live alone. I thought that type of access would facilitate my ability to come and go, and look in on her mom; apparently San did not share my enthusiasm for that proposal. I feel very sad about it, because the 'trust issue' never should have happened. Kitty lived modestly, had no 'big diamonds'. Moreover, having been her friend and 'other daughter' for almost a decade, I'd thought I was above suspicion. Sandra died suddenly and the rift between us was never able to be healed, by either her efforts, or mine. So in this scenario anyway, my resentment has melted away, because it is actually, meaningless in the long view. I stop by and visit Kitty when I can, since there are no family members. I mentally bless Sandra in her home in Heaven, and promise her I will see after her mom, still my dear friend, as much as I can. As far as the second situation, with our mother, Val and I divide up our time as it makes sense: she has a much more structured schedule, so there are things she can do that I cannot. She shops for groceries and things like Ensure, where she can buy in bulk. I sit with mom and see that her checkbook is balanced. I see that her house is clean and the laundry done, and the cat fed. But sure, I sometimes feel resentful because, looking back, I remember the turbulent childhood we had. Though I must say, Alzheimer's has been for me, a kind of leveler. It has changed mom's view of the world..and then mine too. Sometimes, I think if you look at the resentment in that light it reshapes itself, and does not seem like it once was. Val and I count ourselves lucky: we DO have the same view regarding mom's care: we just want to see her comfortable and safe, and remain at home for as long as possible. I said before that this can bring out the best and the worst in a family, or a caregiver. What helped us? Be honest with one another, see where you agree, discuss it frankly, and realize also, that the person with AD is not 'being nasty on purpose" -- it is their illness talking, so much of the time. Get a third, impartial voice if need be: a Doctor, a pastor, a respected colleague. AD is going to be with us for a long time, until there is a breakthrough. A common purpose in everything is a must. No room for adversaries! We need to all be on the same page, right?


over 2 years ago, said...

What great timing for this article--I have been feeling this for a while now. I know that it is making me an angry person, and that is just not me. I am going to try the tips, pray, and try to stay positive. Thank you so much for this reinforcement!


almost 3 years ago, said...

Everything in the article seems to apply to the way I feel or have felt. I remember, "WHEN" seems to be the only thing to remember, sometimes. Remembering that it has not always been "THIS" way is what gets me through.


almost 3 years ago, said...

For helping feel that I am not a terrible person because I sometimes resent. Thank you.


over 3 years ago, said...

Article says everything that I have been feeling. Needed someone else to tell me it was ok to feel conflicting feelings. I feel guilty for not being patient, and understanding when my husband can't seem to understand when I try so hard to explain the why to him. The lights just don't seem to go on in that room where his mind is.


about 4 years ago, said...

Simple but so true! Thanks for the reminders.


about 4 years ago, said...

validation that what I feel about the hand I have been dealt is OK


about 4 years ago, said...

It is the what more than the who.


about 4 years ago, said...

permission to feel the resentment for the situation and a reminder that it is the dementia not the person that caused this situation.


over 4 years ago, said...

The reinforcement that it's OK to feel resentful, but to remember what you are really upset with - the disease or the condition, not the person.