I have been helping on and off to give a caregiver I know a break in taking care of a loved one. I try to relieve her in some way, and sometimes do something to help that man for whom she's caring. Since I've known him, I've always received a pretty good reaction to giving him help. But the last time I offered to wash his hair, I received a "no," and today when I said I was there to cut and wash his hair, it was a serious "no." There was no way he was going to let me do this to help him. It hit me hard. It brought tears to my eyes. The man is like a grandfather even though he is not a blood relation. I came there to help him, and he said "no." I left the room, and I just sat looking at some magazines. And then I realized that maybe I had become one of his "caregivers." I was no longer like a granddaughter coming to visit. Now, he felt like I was there to control some part of his life. My anger and sadness simmered to a stop, and I went in and just sat with him still looking at my magazines. I think it surprised him, and he asked me if he was holding me up. I explained my son was outside playing so I had some time. I could tell he regretted his initial reaction to me, and on my way out, he offered me one of the jellybeans I had brought him on my last longer visit.
I learned several things from this visit. I learned that it is hard to care for loved ones. It's hard when they don't "obey" you. It's hard for them to be told what to do, and it's hard to have them not want your help. I also learned that as a caregiver, we can't forget that most of all we are their loved one. We need to sit and spend time with them if we want them to respect us enough to let us help them.