I was speaking to my friend, Robert, who I would describe as a “reluctant caregiver” and I was struck by the internal struggle he faces with his aging parents.
It is clear there is a long history of conflict and hurt between him and his father. There isn’t much affection between them and his visits are born out of duty and obligation. Now, both of his parents need help and of his siblings, he is geographically the closest. Robert is having to take the lead and care for his parents and well, he is dragging his feet.
There is this misconception among family caregivers that they should have strong feelings of wanting to care and/or a sense of deep love and affection towards the person they are caring for.
I think it is safe to say that at one point or another, all family caregivers are reluctant caregivers. Caregivers often find themselves in their role due to distance, availability, obligation or what seems like a lack of choice. This often leads to feelings of frustration, resentfulness or being backed into a corner.
Robert is clearly stressed by his caregiver roll and the negative emotions he is experiencing. At one point in our conversation, he asks, “Do you think I am mean for feeling this way?”
This was the best advice I could give him:
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– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC
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