Should I feel guilty for being unhappy with my caregiving situation?

Bwildbillyjoe asked...

Should I feel guilty? I have been taking care of my mom for 4 years now. My dad is able to do most of the care for her. I relieve the nite sitter at 8 am m-thurs and spend the nite on m and wed. Dad takes advantage of me being here (83 yo-but doesnt act it). If he knows I am gonna be here he will sleep all day. then wants me to stay later than usual. I recieve no help from my sisters that live behind there house like me (they are tired cause they work boohoo) Mom keeps asking same questions over and over. I have a routine that we go by everyday, but she still asks over and over what she's suppose to do. I know its not on purpose but it is driving me crazy!! I stay home Fri-sun. because i have a 11yo son who is into sports so my wknd is full with him. I have gone through a divorce within these last 4 years of being her primary caregiver. I am ok with that because we are better off and happier now.(my son and I) My sisters not helping really irritates me cause if I ask them to do something--they always have an excuse to do it. One sister stops by and visits but doesnt stay longer than an hour. Other sister just comes by when she wants something. She is always mad at me for some stupid reason. I am on disabilty for deep depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I am on medication that I take like prescribed but it all drives me crazy. I dread coming down here-- I feel like and feel sorry for myself cause I dont have a life. I am ok with being my son's mom but sometimes it drives me crazy that I am the mom now to my mother. I really feel guilty about this and feel thats wrong. Do others feel the same?? Please tell me if I am wrong about feeling like this.

Expert Answer

Deborah Cooke is a gerontologist specializing in dementia, delirium, caregiving, and senior fitness. She is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Cooke currently manages several multidisciplinary programs to enhance well-being for hospitalized seniors and other vulnerable patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She also serves on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian's Patient and Family Education Advisory Committee. She has 18 years of experience working with the aging and caregiver communities.

You should not feel guilty; however, I think every caregiver does. Your other health issues certainly do not help your sanity either. If you aren't already, please seek the help of a regular professional so you can work with all these issues. It's especially important right now.

I also understand your feeling frustrated with your sisters, and your father when he naps. I can't speak to the dynamics since I don't know everyone. Each person deals with these situations differently. For you, you take action and step up to the plate. You may want to consider having a "family" meeting to share your concerns and the needs of your parents. If you see a professional, that person likely would be willing to facilitate this discussion.

For your father, he is with your mom all the time, so respite is very important for him. If this is the case, unfortunately, this respite time comes when you are there. He may have the opportunity with the aide is there, but still feels responsible. When you come, he trusts you completely to take care of her let go of the responsibility.

Being a "mom" for your mom and for your son is very difficult. The role reversal is tough and no one enjoys doing it. I'm happy you can take the weekend to be with your son. That is also very important. Above all this is taking care of yourself. Find your positive outlets and "go" there often. Be it a walk, reading, yoga, meditation...take it! Breathe deeply and seek support from the professionals and friends.