Caregivers: Are You Caring or Overbearing?

Mar 21, 2016

Caregivers: Are You Caring or Overbearing?

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The next time you’re caring for your loved one, put yourself in their loafers. Do you allow them to hold on to their independence? Are you still allowing them to be able to make their own choices as long as they are capable?

For a lot of us, the day that we transition from being a child to a caregiver for our parents is nerve-racking. The difficulties of knowing how much attention they need, when they need it and how to provide it can be a pretty hard to master. Having that perfect balance of handling your loved one’s treatments and other matters while giving them enough space to live a comfortable life can be difficult to find.

Why Caregivers Become Overbearing

There are a couple reasons caregivers become controlling or seem to do more harm than good. It is not a matter of pushiness as much as becoming a product of what is a typically overwhelming and high-stress environment. Pair that with the fact that some caregiving children can get so wrapped up in giving their parent the best care possible that they actually start giving them poor care.

Fear can also make a caregiver react poorly to their circumstances. For example, if an elderly relative is in a lot of physical pain, the caregiver might find themselves feeling guilty for not doing more to help assist them. If these feelings are internalized, it can either subconsciously or consciously come to the surface as controlling behavior. When feelings are not cognitive or recognized by the individual, it can find ways to come out in the form of taking over all the major decisions without consulting any other powers within the family.

Controlling caregivers don’t usually intend on being that way. However, the behaviors they display can easily become a huge obstacle in the recovery process for seniors. Sometimes the best intentions don’t always have the best outcomes.

The Overwhelming Consequences of Overbearing Care

As much as we want to give our loved ones the most care we can, pushing yourself into mom or dad’s life too much might just push you away from them. In some instances, it may offend your loved one or make them feel upset. In other cases, it could completely rob them of any independence they might still be holding onto.

Being an overbearing caregiver can also disrupt treatments or assistance that might be provided from different outside care providers such as their physician or home care visitor. Speaking for a patient instead of allowing them to speak for themselves, assuming they are mentally or physically able to, hinders any health care provider’s ability to diagnose or treat them.

Overbearing caregivers are sometimes a problem because it is rare that patients choose to open up about their feelings. It might be that they aren’t used to voicing their opinions, are anxious about confronting issues, or just used to that sort of care. When communication isn’t opened up between both the senior and their caregiver, it can mean that nothing gets changed in order to fix the situation.

It’s not just seniors who are negatively influenced by care from a tyrannical caregiver. Being overbearing can really take a toll on the well-being of the caregiver themselves as well. Caregiver burnout is a major problem for people who take care of elderly parents or spouses. In fact, one study found that stress on elderly spousal caregivers that resulted from caregiving caused 63% more mortality rates than their non-caregiving peers.

Am I an Overbearing Caregiver?

Here are some general questions to ask if you are wondering about your caregiving style or worried about how your behavior could potentially affect your loved one.

  1. Am I controlling things that my loved one could do on their own?
  2. Am I giving them enough space?
  3. How does my behavior directly affect my loved one?
  4. Do I interrupt or speak for them when they are capable of speaking for themselves?
  5. Do they need as much help as I give them?
  6. How does the person I’m caring for feel about my assistance?
  7. Is there enough communication on both ends between caregiver and patient?
  8. Am I overstepping my boundaries?
  9. Is my relationship with my loved one gone downhill since I started caring for them?
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Frequently Asked Questions

My mother has Alzheimer's disease, and lately she's been wandering out of the house. What can I do to stop her wandering?

Wandering can bring forth loads of anxiety in any caregiver, but thankfully, there are many things you can do to put a stop to the wandering, or at least decrease it. The first thing you should do is secure your house. Replace locks and doorknobs with ones that are more difficult to open. Put up an alarm system so that if the door were to open, you will be alerted immediately.

At times it’s difficult to prevent this completely, especially with some very persistent individuals. But, there are things you can do to keep the situation from becoming hazardous even if an individual wanders. For example, always make sure the individual has some sort of identification on them. You could also put up a fence as long as it’s a reasonable option.

If you find that the issue of wandering is out of your hands and may result in your loved one getting hurt, it may be time to consider other options. This may include hiring outside help in the form of an in-home health aid or moving your senior to a senior living community that specializes in memory care.

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I take care of my father at home, he was diagnosed with Dementia, but it seems to be worsening, what should I do?

Seek the help of a physician. If Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia, is caught in the early stages, there is a lot of preventative care and treatments that physicians may offer your father to maintain, and even increase, quality of life. Make notes of any of the common Alzheimer's signs or symptoms your father might show.

If you find that taking care of your father is becoming too burdensome on you, consider having other family members help or hire outside help. There are in-home health aides, as well as adult day care centers that have staff specially trained for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer's.

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