Our loved ones are in such a vulnerable situation and they feel it 10x more than we do. How this manifests is that they are over-the-top fearful of upsetting us, making us mad, or displeasing us. Our reassurances do little to lift this fear. Even our encouraging words do not do much, although every one of these kindnesses is needed.
But imagine that you are completely helpless and at the mercy of everyone around you. That is terrifying. So it’s no wonder there’s so much fear of upsetting you. And with dementia this fear is deep-seeded, irrational, but very, very real.
On the caregiver side it’s a whole different ball game. The sheer exhaustion of caregiving, the financial concerns, the relational stresses with other friends and family members, etc… can leave a caregiver frazzled. That in turn can lead to frustration, impatience and sometimes gruffness. It’s a nasty mix.
The tired caregiver who loves and wants to be kind but sometimes frustration wins, and the vulnerable, terrified loved one who wants to never upset their caregiver as the fear of what might happen is real beyond the natural world. Both are trying to meet in the middle.
A caregiver needs to do what they can to find the rest and sleep and time away that they need so that they can continue to encourage and be kind to their loved ones. But most importantly, we need voluminous words to reassure our loved ones that we love them and are committed to their care. There will never be enough words. And as for my loved one, sometimes even the kind and encouraging words are received with resentment. But it is still important the same to reassure them.
Hang in there caregiver world. It astounds me regularly when I look at the map on this blog and see so many hits out there. Caregiving is at the heart of the human’s care for one another.