Working in the nursing home should have prepared me for this, but it didn’t. Perhaps it couldn’t. On the very rare occasions one of our patients got a family member to visit, the family made it a point to find fault with all of the employees. Because I was only a teenager I was shielded a lot from it, but you could see (and hear) all about it in the break room.
The person closest is the handiest target: That’s true no matter how old you are or what your medical condition is. Our elder can be quite difficult, and the person she’s difficult with tends to be those who spend the most time with her. The hired caregivers are not exempt from this, but they are experienced and trained to handle it. It’s harder when it’s one of the rest of her family. Because we do spend a lot of time with her and she does know us best, she’s quite adept at causing maximum pain.
Guilt: This is most likely the cause of my experiences in the nursing home and it hasn’t changed in our family. We all feel a certain amount of it. Sometimes it’s over trifles that have long ago been forgotten. At other times, as in the nursing home, we feel guilty because we can’t do everything possible. The problem comes in when someone needs to find a person to blame. That will usually be the person taking care of the patient.
It’s not as easy as it looks: This is true for our elder and for the above mentioned person. “All” that we do is watch TV with her and eat. That’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny. She cannot get up without help. It’s difficult to get her to and from the bathroom. It’s an exhausting ordeal to get her to the dining room table or into the sunroom so she can visit with people.
Then there all the chores that need done. The caregivers do a lot of that. They do laundry, mop floors, fix food and take out the trash. They do everything needed to run a household. When I’m there, I cook and do the marketing. I take her to the doctor and pick up medication. At home, I do the mail order prescriptions and order groceries to be delivered. I make appointments, arrange for repairs, etc.
My husband brings his toolbox whenever he comes and does as much of the repairing as he can. He’s saved us a lot of money by doing it himself. It’s a lot of work and it is behind the scenes, particularly if you aren’t where you can see the jobs being done.
You may need care: This is something for everyone who is finding fault with a family member trying to help out to keep in mind. You aren’t immortal. In all probability you will need care yourself. It will probably be at least partly from a family member. If you want *them* to be the caretaker then, be cautious how you treat them now. If you bite them with your words you can guarantee they will not be your caretaker.