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The Roller Coaster of Caregiving

By Jane Cassily Knapp, RN, LCSWC
(Page 2 of 4)

When a dependent family member first moves into your home for care giving there is often a “honeymoon” period.

Everyone is polite, friendly and appreciative. This new change in the family dynamics can temporarily make even old persistent family problems seem like they have been resolved or forgotten. Everyone puts his or her best foot forward.

However, as many of you are aware, this is often short lived. The “new” family member may offer “suggestions” about how your family should do things; especially concerning how you should raise your children. There is no longer just you and your husband watching TV in the evening. His mother is sitting in between. Your children compete for attention by fighting with each other while you’re changing grandpa’s diapers. They may let you know how they feel about the new member in their home by acting out at school; grades may drop. All these wonderful things add to your exhaustion and frustration. Your mother-in-law may re-arrange your furniture or your kitchen closets. And just to make life more interesting, you are up every 3-4 hours to take your new family member to the bathroom only to get there and have them say, “I guess it was just a false call.”

There are many positive gifts to be had by participating in caregiving. You have the unique opportunity to get to know the dependent person in a very intimate and wonderful way. You can experience tremendous satisfaction from caregiving. You become the model for family members and others who take on the caregiving experience.

You provide the gift of allowing the dependent person to live in a home environment and to be taken care of by someone who loves them and who will honestly work to maintain their privacy, security, and personhood.
Family caregivers have history with the dependent person. They knew them before their many losses. They knew and respected the personhood of their past. Therefore they don’t only see them as who they appear in the present. This provides a connection and intimacy that is very comforting.

Family caregivers also provide a sense of comfort and relief to the other family members of the dependent person by the fact that they now have the peace of mind that their dependent loved one is being cared for by someone who really cares for them.

We have mentioned:

  • Anger

  • Ambivalence

  • Exhaustion

  • Frustration

  • Guilt

As difficult feelings common to the family members of a dependent person and the caregiving role.


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