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We are not all careivers

Posted on February 16, 2017 at 6:20 PM
We are all unique individuals with different talents and flaws. Often, our so-called flaws are merely ways in which we differ with ever-changing societal expectations. For example, when people marry, it used to be a given that they would have children if at all possible. Currently, a significant number of couples choose not to have children. Are they selfish? No. They simply know what they want out of their lives, and being parents isn't likely the best choice for them, or their potential children. Similarly, some people may have the insight to recognize that they wouldn't be able to provide quality day in and day out hands-on care for a beloved parent. They may have spent decades building careers that they love, encouraged by the parents who now need care, or they may be people to whom patience is not natural and a repetitive daily grind would become numbing. Are these bad people? No. Selfish people? Again, no. Or at least most of them are not. They simply don't have the personality makeup for the repetitive, nurturing task of long-term hands-on caregiving for vulnerable adults.  Respecting different approaches to caregiving is something we all need to strive to achieve. Most of these people love their parents. They will visit their parents. They most likely will arrange competent care and monitor their parents' wellbeing. They will handle financial issues. In actuality, they are providing care, though they are not 100 percent involved. I explain how this administrative aspect is a valuable part of caregiving in my AgingCare article "When Do You Become a Caregiver?"  People forced to give personal care against their natural instincts may do okay for awhile, and sometimes that's all that is needed. But, caregiving often has a way of stretching out into a long-term commitment, and in these cases there is a significant prospect that day-to-day caregiving would backfire for those adult children and their care receivers. The caregivers would eventually resent their role and could come to resent their parents neediness, as well. Resentment is a powerful thing. It eats at the heart of the person carrying the grudge. It builds until it takes on a life of its own, so that even the most talented actor can't hide their underlying resentment from the care receiver. Resentment reveals itself in body language. It comes out in tone of voice. And yes, in extreme cases, it explodes into abuse. If you are one of these people who has the insight to know that you aren't cut out to be a hands-on caregiver, you are to be commended for your ability to take an honest look at yourself and not flinch from who you are. Nurturing isn't your strong point and you honestly admit that. Perhaps, however, you are being too hard on yourself. As mentioned above, the definition of a caregiver isn't a cut and dried job description, identical for everyone. Some people can handle a few weeks of providing hands-on care, but cannot continue with that role for months or years. (agingcare))

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