Managing Caregiver Anger
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Managing Caregiver Anger. Do you ever get mad at your care receiver? Have you ever been so frustrated that
you yelled, said hateful, mean things, or threatened them with some dire
consequence? If so, welcome to the club. You’re human. Being a caregiver may be the ultimate test of patience and
perseverance, and if your care receiver has Alzheimer’s, or another dementia related
disease, you might as well accept the fact that you are going to have moments
when you are not only angry with them, you are going to be angry with the
entire world. Trying to maintain your balance in an unpredictable and ever-changing
environment is tricky, at best, and sometimes we don’t succeed. So if we can agree that getting angry
and feeling frustrated with your care receiver is inevitable, then the next step is to figure out how
to deal with it so that the emotion does not completely
take over and result in harm to you or to your
care receiver. So let’s explore some action steps that
might work for you. You’re going to notice that this is a
recurring theme. When your care receiver is displaying
challenging behaviors, try to stay calm. Remind yourself, it is the disease, not the person. Don’t let their behavior knock you off-balance. Now this is nearly impossible to do alone, so get involved in a caregiver support
group that has a trained leader. Someone who has knowledge of the disease and the effect it has on people will
help you understand the behavior and they’ll be able to make suggestions that
will help you respond in a manner that diffuses problems, rather than
escalating them. Also, call a few trusted family members
or friends and ask them if they would be willing to
serve as a member of your safety net team. The agreement
needs to be that they will be there to catch your
anger and frustration when you need to hurl it without feeling the need to fix the
problem or lecture you on the virtue of patience. In those moments when you feel like you are about to lose it, these are the people you know you can
call, who will listen without judgement as you
rant and rave and blow off a little steam. Now if you need more then a quick release
for anger, seek respite care. Contact your local area agency on aging, and ask for
referrals. Their mission is to help older persons
and persons with disabilities, live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Their national website will help provide
connections for you in your local area. They will be able to help you find everything from adult day care centers, where your care
receiver can participate in fun activities, to nursing homes. where your loved one could stay for a few days or even up to a few weeks. And then, when your loved one is safe and well
cared for, you will be free to participate in some
activities that could reduce your stress, and refresh your spirit. Think about it.
You could have coffee or lunch with a friend. You could take an art class or visit an art museum. You
could take a music lesson, sing in a choir, or go to a concert. You
could get outside and get some fresh air and exercise. Or. you could do one of my favorite
things: you could hit something, like a tennis ball or a
golf ball, or how about the drum? Or you could
be like the egg lady from Iowa. I met her at a
conference when I spoke there are a few years ago, and she told me that her anger management program included two dozen eggs a day, and I said, “Tell me about that.” Well it turns out, she lives on a farm, and
every morning, when she goes out to gather the eggs, she sets aside two dozen eggs for
herself, and then at 3:56 in the afternoon, she goes
out to the tracks and she waits for the train. As it passes, she hurls the eggs at the box cars. If
it’s a short train, she’ll throw the eggs really, really fast. If it’s a long
one, she’ll take aim and try to hit the logos in the middle of each car. And then, there’s my friend from Montana, who told me she relieves her tension by
shooting gophers out of her second-story bedroom window. Boom! The point I’m trying to make is that anger is part of the caregiver
experience. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It
probably means you’re overloaded, and in need of some rest and little
distance from your duties. Now, sometimes it takes more than rest. Sometimes, we have to forgive. And the
things we have to forgive are those things which cannot be
understood, accepted, or rationalized away. These are
the things that we have to forgive and let go. Now I can already hear what you thinking. “But I so
deserve to be angry, and they don’t deserve to be
forgiven!” Well, I won’t argue with that, but being right won’t make you happy, and
hanging onto anger or grudges will hurt you much more than anyone else. So, if you can’t get
there on your own, seek counseling from a therapist, or
from your clergy. Even with help, it’s hard to let go of anger and indignation, which is, no doubt,
justified. But, here’s the problem with hanging on
to it. When you’re feeling like this: When you
are fuming over something, does the person that you
are angry with, feel like this? Well, probably not. They are probably going on
with their lives, absolutely oblivious to the pain and agony their actions have caused you.
So, carrying around old grudges and anger is like piling the weight of the world
on your back, and it has no impact on them. So if you
can let it go, you can change your perspective on the world. And if you can do that, it could help you reach a peaceful place, even if it’s only temporary. It’s a great
place to visit, until the day you can live there most of the time.

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