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Poor relationship with person I am taking care of......

How do you keep your patience when you have a bad history with the person you care for? I feel angry all the time.....and his personality (still from the past and worse in the present) triggers me?

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@donnad473253 wrote:

How do you keep your patience when you have a bad history with the person you care for? I feel angry all the time.....and his personality (still from the past and worse in the present) triggers me?


Hey Donna,

Dr. Jacobs has some good ideas. I would encourage you to do a couple more things, and i wish the onus wasn't on you. But you've agreed to be his caregiver, and so there you are. I'd expand the caregiving circle. If it is at all possible, let him be cared by others, too, so you are not (as) burdened by him. Pay for some care so you get a break? Enlist other members of the family, and no they don't have the right to say no. If they refuse to provide hands on help, then they can contribute money to the pot to pay for care. Just because he is bloodkinfolk does not mean you need to be a martyr. 

 

I would also get myself into therapy if i were you. Find a therapist, and practice with her or him how to be with this man without taking abuse from him. Or maybe you are triggered by his grumpy voice, and he isn't actually directing hostility toward you. But still you are triggered. You need a place to talk about this, vent, work through a recent episode where he really pushed your buttons. 

 

I did that once for my now-deceased mom. She was crazy, and refused care. My dad cared for her and was suffering with the burden of it. I went to a therapist, and also to Alanon (because those folks really understand people who make bad decisions.)  With coaching, i was able to be a help to my dad, make suggestions to my mother, watch her ignore them, and not torture myself. It was hard. And harder still for you because you're in the primary caregiver spot.

 

Tell us more? What do you think of our ideas?

Thinking of you as we head into stressful holiday season...

Jane

 

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Dear Donna,

 

     You are in good company. Many caregivers find themselves feeling obliged to provide care to relatives with whom they've had difficult relationships. I wrote an AARP.org blog about this, "When a Troubled Past Affects Present Caregiving," in January 2016:

 

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/overcoming-past-issues-bjj.html

 

In that blog post, I suggest three tips:

 

     --Heed your past, but try not to be held captive by it

 

     --Focus on what's positive from the past

 

     --Make decisions based on your values, not old scores

 

To those, I would now add one more: Seek ways to transform a previously negative relationship to one which is more positive than it has ever been.

 

     I hope these are helpful. Good luck finding a real sense of purpose in your caregiving--Barry Jacobs, co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

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