Resentment is an emotion you may not want to admit you have. You usually try to keep it at bay and not let it define the kind of person you are. Yet, for Alzheimer’s caregivers, it is hard not to feel resentment from time-to-time.
Resentment comes in many forms. You may resent other family members if you don’t think they are pulling their weight. Or, you may resent a family member who seems to take over and not listen to your ideas or opinions. In turn, if you are not the caregiver, she may resent you for not supporting her, or second guessing her, when she is making tough decisions.
At times, you may find that you even resent your loved one for not cooperating when you are trying to help. I know that when I tried to take Jim to daycare, he would balk and refuse to go most of the time. I wanted him to go to daycare so that I could keep him at home longer rather than make the nursing home decision. He didn’t understand that—he just knew he wanted to stay at home.
Resentment can build because life just seems to be out of control. All your well-laid plans go awry, and there isn’t a darn thing you can do to make life normal again. In the case of early onset, you may have been looking forward to retirement just to see your retirement dreams vanish. Instead of travel and relaxation, you are a full-time caregiver taking on an overwhelming job.
One thing is for sure—if you are consumed with resentment, you need to find a way to overcome this self-destructive emotion before it turns into anger. Have you ever thought that when you are resentful, it is such an internal emotion that you are often the only person affected?
Okay, now that you’ve identified an emotion you want no part of, what can you do? Think about the things that make you resentful, and seek a solution for each one. If you are feeling that you are doing much more than your share, ask for help. Often family members don’t even realize that you need help. You may seem so confident and capable, that they feel inadequate to try taking your place even for a short time.
If you’re resentful of your loved one’s behavior, just remember that the disease causes the behavior and your loved one is not just being willful. I always knew that Jim’s behavior was something he couldn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, he was always stubborn, but not unreasonable. No one can overcome the effects of damaged brain cells. My mom always said, “If a person has a broken leg, no one expects them to walk on that leg.” Her point was that Alzheimer’s was much more of a physical problem than a broken leg, and no one could expect Jim to think the same with a diseased brain as he did with a healthy one.
I coped with the resentment of having no control over the progression of the disease by focusing on what I could do. I could see that Jim had all the tests to determine he did not have an irreversible condition, and that he had the best treatment options available. Then, I volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Association because it provided a positive experience for me. It helped me to know that I could help raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association support and services to benefit other caregivers. I became an advocate so I could educate legislators on both the state and national level on the urgency of funding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s, or better yet, a cure.
Resentment may be a feeling you want to hide, but it is a normal, human emotion. Just like all negative emotions, it can damage your physical and emotional health, or you can use it to make yourself stronger. Coping with resentment, can make you more assertive, in a good way, which can help you be a better caregiver, which in turn, helps your loved one’s quality of life.
Copyright (c) May 2013