Caregiving is a thankless job. No matter how hard you work each day, the one you’re caring for rarely shows appreciation. In many cases, they can’t. And that can take its toll on your well-being.
Part of you rationalizes this. You understand it. But still, it hurts. Your negative feeling keep building until you feel like you’re ready to explode. How do you cope?
Remind yourself why they don’t show appreciation
This may sound simple, but sometimes your negative feelings can be stopped just by stepping back and assessing why this is happening. If your loved one has dementia, for example, they often struggle just to get through the day. They can’t express their basic feelings; to show appreciation is beyond their capabilities.
When you step back and remember why you’re doing this in the first place, it allows you to feel appreciation for yourself – for taking the initiative to be there for someone who means a lot in your life.
Celebrate your own accomplishments
If your family can’t or won’t thank you for what you’re doing, shower yourself with appreciation instead. Create moments during your week where you do things just for you. Join groups both online and in your local area that allow you to connect with people beyond your caregiving duties. This will let you stay connected to who you are as a person, outside and beyond the tasks you take on as a caregiver.
Sometimes people get caught up in their own lives and problems and forget the basics. Remind them. If you’ve done something above and beyond, or just want to let your loved ones know you’re human too, take a lighthearted approach. Say something like: “No need to thank me; it’s all part of this job” after completing a task. Sometimes lightening the mood can not only take away stress, but it can also make both of you feel better. A good chuckle is always a good thing.
Remember your performance isn’t based on recovery
In many situations, we work hard to get to the finish line. We go to school and work towards graduation. We work hard at our jobs in hopes of a promotion. But it doesn’t work the same way with caregiving. We often work harder only to see the one we love fail a little bit more.
That’s why you should never judge yourself based on what’s happening. You can’t judge how your actions helped your loved one yesterday, and compare it to work performed today. It’ll never be the same and can change from day to day.
You are making a difference no matter what’s required each day. By reframing the way you approach each task can help you realize that even a grumble might be the only way they can truly say: thank you.