Caregiver Happiness Comes From Within

Caregiver Happiness Comes From Within

Posted on June 2, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Healthy Living, Home Care Non-Medical, Senior Living

i, caregiver: Find happiness within yourself

By: Juneita Johari

Most elderly don’t want to burden their children, especially their caregivers. So they sometimes pretend that all is well and that they are happy when in fact they have issues like anxiety and fear or additional pain that they don’t quite know how to describe. Their happy facade may cause you, the caregiver, to miss new ‘problems’ that surface.

Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum. Despite all that you do, nothing is ever right and they just don’t seem to feel better. They’re just not happy unless they are unhappy. It’s as though woe is their middle name. They complain about how impossible and incompetent everyone is and how no one can do anything right.

I’ve been told that if these people had loved to complain when they were younger, they’re not likely to change when they are older and ill.
They also cannot seem to bear seeing other people happy. So if they are in pain, they will make you go out of your way to “help” them but nothing pleases them. It seems that they will only be satisfied if you are miserable too.

Several caregivers have shared similar stories, about how impossible it is for them to do what they feel is right. Nothing is ever right. Some of them have gone into depression and needed counselling.

What do the counsellors say?

First of all, don’t take it personally. Recognise that the problem is no longer about what you can or can’t do for that person. Let them complain. You’ll find that by allowing them to complain, they feel better even if you can’t see the sense in this.

Detach yourself from their complaints and don’t take whatever they say personally. I know this is not an easy thing to do, but try you must, or you’ll be sad everyday and may have an aversion or fear of this person.

On some days, you can cheerfully agree that “yes, some people are just so terrible and incompetent”, but don’t accept the blame. Don’t put yourself in the position of the person your loved one is complaining about.

Don’t argue either. Let the complaints just float by, unless of course there is a valid reason for you to be concerned. You just have to learn to be discerning, and pick and choose what is a real complaint and what is just a nagging episode.

What I find helpful when dealing with this sort of people is to do things to improve my mood. It’s hard at first, but after a while and some practice, the conscious effort of getting yourself together feels like you’ve shed off your shirt of burden. After that mental workout and process, I find I can be calm for the other people in my life.

To do this, I’ve had to deal with my attitude towards such people. Remember that saying “We cannot change our circumstances but we can change ourselves”? Well, whatever change that needs to be done has to begin with us.

Remember why we’re doing this. At the top of the list is because we love that person. Next comes other people’s expectations of us and our obligations to our loved ones. Giving our time by being there and doing things for them all translate into our love and care for them.

However, if what you do still goes unappreciated, then you just have to take a long hard look at yourself. A favourite question counsellors ask is, “Do you love and respect yourself?”.

This is a crucial question that we should try to answer because if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can others do the same to you?

Next is to be happy and to stay happy.

I remember years ago when I forgot how to enjoy myself. How could I laugh and have fun when my child was sick? How could I enjoy anything when my parents were ill and hospitalised with the inevitable looming around us?

“Take deep breaths and find your happy place” was what I was often told. Learn to see the lighter side of things. If it’s something that is beyond your control, let it go.
Remember that no matter what goes on around you, you are in control of your happiness.

Just need to find it within you.

Published: NewStraitsTimes