Friday, July 31, 2015

The Guilt and Pride of the Reluctant Caregiver - The New York Times

"Let’s acknowledge that at times almost every caregiver knows exhaustion, anger and resentment.  But to me, reluctant caregivers probably deserve more credit than most. They are not getting any of the good stuff back, no warmth or laughter, little tenderness, sometimes not even gratitude.

Yet they are doing this tough work anyway, usually because no one else can or will. Maybe an early death or a divorce means that the person who would ordinarily have provided care can’t. Or maybe the reluctant caregiver is simply the one who can’t walk away.

 “It’s important to acknowledge that every relationship doesn’t come from ‘The Cosby Show,’” said Barbara Moscowitz when I called to ask her about reluctance. Ms. Moscowitz, a senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, has heard many such tales from caregivers in her clinical practice and support groups.

“We need to allow people to be reluctant,” she said. “It means they're dutiful; they're responsible. Those are admirable qualities.”

Yet, she recognizes, “they feel oppressed by the platitudes....“Caregiving only goes one way – it gets harder, more complex,” she said. “Support groups and community resources are like having a first aid kit. It’s going to feel like even more of a burden, and you need to be armed.”

I wonder, too, if reluctant caregivers have a romanticized view of what the task is like for everyone else. Elder care can be a wonderful experience, satisfying and meaningful, but guilt and resentment are also standard parts of the job description, at least occasionally.

For a reluctant caregiver, “the satisfaction is, you haven’t turned your back,” Ms. Moscowitz said. “You can take pride in that.”"

The Reluctant Caregiver - The New York Times

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