Caregiving is a deeply rewarding job for many people, but if you are caring for an individual who is losing their cognitive abilities or whose personality is changing, it’s easy to feel under-appreciated – or not appreciated at all.
It is common for caregivers to feel they are taken advantage of, or that their work goes unappreciated. According to Caring.com, surveys have shown that more than half of all caregivers feel this way. These feelings are natural and understandable, since all humans need some sense of validation for their work and sacrifices. Still, some caregivers feel silly complaining about it. However, it’s important to accept feelings of under-appreciation so you can deal with them accordingly. Here are some ways to cope.
Put it into perspective
If you are caring for an individual who has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another illness that causes them to lose cognitive function, you may be aware that their personalities will change. The cognitive decline also means this individual may be physically unable to even recognize how much you do for him or her, let alone thank you for it. If this is the case, it’s important to seek this kind of acknowledgement from your spouse, siblings or other family members.
Stick up for yourself
It can also be difficult as a caregiver to seek out attention for tasks you are doing out of love. Still, it’s important to remember that seeking acknowledgement is a natural need and not doing so may breed resentment or caregiver burnout. In some circumstances, you can ask your loved one to be more polite to you, the news outlet reports. Explain that you love them and would do anything for them, but that you would like to feel like what you do is a choice, not an order.
Seek the support you need
In other cases, you may need to explain your feelings to other relatives to get recognition and support if your loved one is unable to thank you. It may take practice, but it is important to talk out negative feelings like those of under-appreciation. It may help to join a caregiver support group, where others may feel the same way as you. These groups are generally uplifting, supportive environments where you can share feelings, needs and worries, the Alzheimer’s Association reports. Ultimately, it’s up to you to control your life and feelings, so never underestimate the effect of a pat on your own back, literally or figuratively.