I Do Not Want to Be a Caregiver!
"I think that I am a terrible person. I simply do not want to be a caregiver.
I make every excuse I can come up with to avoid helping my siblings care for our elderly mother. None of my excuses are all that great, but I continue to use them. I even come up with new ones from time to time.
The thing is, I know Mom needs support. She’s in her 90s and there are simply some things she cannot do for herself anymore. She does need someone to take her to appointments, she needs groceries, she has grass to cut, and so on. I just do not want to do those things, and my sisters are just better at it.
They are the ones that do everything for Mom. I’m guessing they just don’t mind it? But I think Mom should just move into an assisted living and give up the house.
Since I’m writing to you, I must feel some guilt about this. Is there something wrong with me?"
There’s a bit of a disconnect in your situation, and it’s one that happens quite frequently in families. It’s interesting how we all play certain roles and fall into familiar patterns.
Most children are caregivers out of obligation and not because they just love spending all their available time going over to their mother’s house and doing the chores she no longer can.
You see, caregiving happens gradually. As a parent ages, the need for support grows. A sibling who took on one or two tasks may now have 10 to perform regularly. They may indeed be better than you at some tasks, but since you made it to adulthood, you likely can handle the basics.
You do not have to love caregiving to be part of the solution in your family. I get that you’re good at excuse-making, but you can change that. You may even have been the child of whom little was expected, for whatever reason. I reiterate, you are an adult now and you can step up. I believe it is never too late, and you do not have to love it.
I recommend you pick something you can do and are confident about. Maybe you could cut the grass or drive your mother to appointments.
Neither of those tasks require rare skill. Simply assess what your siblings do for your mother and tell them what you can take over.
You may get a look of disbelief. So what? You’re the one who has to live within your mind and you clearly need to take some action to lessen your guilt. So, just do it. Others will judge your actions and that’s okay. They already have opinions about you. What is most important is how you feel about yourself.
You can resolve your role in this situation. Parents don’t live forever, but you must live with yourself. You’re clearly not someone who can lie to themselves. So, take a small step and be part of the solution. You will relieve some pressure for your siblings, help your mother, and most importantly, give yourself some peace of mind. I wish you well.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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