Saturday, April 12, 2014

Caregiver Resentment: Would They Do It Again? (Research, Video 3:09)

Let’s be real about caregiving. Some caregivers feel depressed, guilty, and trapped in a hole with no way out, except the death of persons in their care. Maybe they were the only siblings living near the parents, the only relatives or friends with resources to provide care, or the only persons willing to step up when others refused. Whatever their reasons, they became caregivers reluctantly, never fully embracing the responsibility, and made the most of the situation. If they had a choice, would they do it again? Some say they would not.

In a study reported in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, factors associated with an unwillingness to become caregivers again were reviewed. Former caregivers of palliative care patients were interviewed. Comparisons between those who would do caregiving again and those who would not were made with these results:

1)   One in 13 (7.4%) former caregivers indicated that they would not provide such care again.
2)   One in six (16.5%) would only "probably care again."
3)   Increasing age lessens the willingness to care again and so does lower levels of education.
4)   Despite most active caregivers being willing to provide care again, a
proportion would not.

This video about relieving stress while caring for an aging parent or spouse presents ways for caregivers to cope.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. I am my mother's caregiver for the past 14 years. It is the hardest thing to do. I would do it again anytime. My mother was there for me when I needed her and I am here for her. My brother lives less than 5 miles from us and we only see him every 3 or 4 months. He is the one who is missing out.

    1. hardchoice,
      I have great admiration for male caregivers of their mothers. For so many years that was considered a woman's job. But you are one of millions of men who are stepping up in more recent years.

      You might find this interview with a friend of mind who was also a caregiver for his mother interesting:

      Know that I wish you and your mother the best.

      Happy endings,

  2. Caregiving for a parent is a difficult task, even with the best of relationships, but I, too, would do it all over again. I think the key is to have sort of an agreement as to how much you can do for a loved one, and what the limitations are - such as if you would like to take a vacation from the caregiving role. It can work - and it should work. There simply aren't enough choices for elderly parents who need almost constant supervision, or even 24/7 supervision. I feel we should provide for our loved ones if at all possible.

    1. Syl, thanks for your advice on caregiving. You mention a plan that can work, even though the task is difficult. It is important to take vacations, have other enjoyment and accept help.

  3. I was and am the soul caregiver for my husbands parents. I am home with my MIL 24/7. I would do anything for my husband and most of his family. We all used to be close. This journey has shown me a lot about my in laws character. They do not help us in anyway. If we do manage to get them to help, they are usually late or cancel last minute. My MIL is stubborn and set in her ways (very selfish). I have barely been able to see my own side of my family because she will not go with me, and I have a 93 year old grandmother still hanging in there. My husband and I have opened up our home to raise an older siblings children without financial support for the 6 years prior to taking in his parents. We have given up our social lives because of the lack of help and the stubborness of my MIL. Not to mention my husband now has to work 2 jobs just so we can pay our bills. I gave up my job of 9 1/2 years to take care of his parents. I pretty much only leave the house for doctors visits, hospital visits, and to pick up more adult diapers. I spend my time making sure she has everything she needs. Meanwhile my husbands and I worlds are falling apart around us. Financially and emotionally. She pays for her own things including her old house and its utilities since her destitute oldest son moved in there and guilts her into paying for his way of life. (He is in his 50's and hasn't worked in the 13.5 years I've been with my husband. Yes he has issues) It's going on 2 1/2 years since we moved her in, and I can't help but feel sorry for his brothers, sister, nieces, and nephews. I am getting all of this precious time with her and they are making the choice not too. I have also grown to resent all of them as well including his parents. They do not awknowledge what I am doing and what I have given up to keep them here as long as I have. His father passed a year and a half ago. His mom doesn't have another year and a half in her. I would be in shock if she did. She is willing herself to go and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Sorry I got off track. Just feels good to get this off my chest. She and I have made all her final arrangements. Funeral, wills, advanced directives, she's paid for it all. The resentment comes in the form of no mention of me. She doesn't stick up for me when it comes to them backing out of watching her at max, 3 hours. No "I want you to have this or I bequief to my daughter in law blah blah blah because she stepped up when nobody else would." It hurts. It really does.
    So would I ever choose to do this again? Not unless it was someone from my own side of the family. When my MIL passes, I am done with the rest of his family, if you can call their actions and behavior normal family behavior. They all act like they do so much out in public like at church and the hospitals and on social media sights.
    Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. SoTired,
      I empathize with your concerns and hope you will seek more assistance to relieve your stress and frustration. Consider contacting your local Area Agency on Aging or other caregivng support groups. More options are becoming available as the caregiving population increases.

  4. I think the question is not whether you would care for your parent if you had it to do all over again, but whether you would caregive for someone else in future having gone through the experience. I cared for mom, including intensive, hands-on ADL help for the last 7 years of her life, and I would again today if she were still with me. Will I caregive in future for one of my siblings, though? I'm not so sure.

  5. Thanks for sharing your perspective. You make an interesting point that encourages reflection.