Feeling Judged As A Caregiver
"I feel as though others judge me when I say I'm a caregiver. It feels like they believe the work they do is more important than mine, that unless you are in a paid career and moving up the ladder, you are not relevant. Although I am retired and caring for my mother, I don't think people view me as working, as if my time is not valuable. I cannot seem to shake this feeling that I lost something since becoming a full-time caregiver." - READER
First of all, make no mistake. You are performing a valuable service for your mother, your family, and for society as a whole. Being a caregiver matters to the person receiving care and that person’s loved ones. It is a crucial role, and the time you put into it is very valuable.
As far as other people are concerned, do your best not to give too much weight to their negative and hurtful comments regarding your caregiving duties. People are ego-centric, and those who are most unhappy and unfulfilled are usually the first ones to point fingers at others. Apparently, these people have never heard the phrase, "When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing right back at you." Besides, anyone who says or thinks caregiving is not an important job is simply foolish. You could even look at this as an empowering opportunity to educate those who do not understand.
It appears that you may also be struggling with transitioning from full-time employment to retirement. This is one of the most challenging transitions in life for anyone, and most retirees experience an adjustment period. You were likely employed for most of your life, growing, and assuming more responsibility as you became seasoned in your career. When retirement abruptly starts, as it does for most individuals, it takes time to adapt to the new you.
What is slightly different in your situation is that you immediately went from full-time career to full-time caregiver. This is not the most common role for a new retiree, but it is not entirely uncommon either. Some added stress or mild anxiety, in this case, would not be out of the ordinary. Right now you need to give yourself time to adapt to the new role you have assumed.
While taking care of your mother is valuable work, it may not be enough on its own to fill your soul with growth experiences. It is important that you avoid making caregiving all you do. I recommend that you look for ways to stay connected to the outside world. Some common solutions are part-time work, volunteering or hobbies. If you really enjoyed your former career, you might consider a smaller-scale version of your previous line of work, but I recommend trying an entirely new hobby or activity altogether. Now is the time for pursuing what else interests you.
Finally, do not forget that everyone needs a respite from time to time. Time away from caregiving is essential for you to be fulfilled and refreshed, so bake that into your schedule. Your mother can be cared for by others at times, and it is okay for you to be away.
Never forget that both you and your role as a caregiver are vitally important and relevant. Tap your family for some additional help if possible, find your own center, and try some new things.
I wish you success on this journey.
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