Anger is an emotion. This is pretty much common knowledge and most people will tell you that anger in unhealthy and some people will tell you it is a normal emotion and it all depends on how you react to the feeling of that anger.
As a long term caregiver to a family member, I am guilty of experiencing anger and reacting badly to it.
Truth be told, it has been a rough couple of days. My father in law was recently diagnosed officially with major neurocognitive disorder. That is essentially dementia. He had periods of confusion and disorientation along with visual and auditory hallucinations, it can last anywhere from 15 minutes to days at a time.
The last episode was very trying. While i have done this for a couple of years, the stresses can be taxing especially when its your life 27/7/365!
Since I do his bowel care, last night was the night for his bowel care. If he hasn’t had a bowel movement for 48 hours, its time to do it.
Now the method for bowel care is pretty much the same all across the board.
I let his know a couple of hours ahead of time the plan for bowel care. When its time to do the bowel care i walk in and let him know its time, i glove my hands, sanitize the glover and forearms, and set the table. The table has extra gloves, the sanitizer, lubrication jelly, trash can and wipes along with an extra flat sheet and a pad.
First thing i do is a pressure test on his lower obdoment, if it is firm ,he has stool in his bowel. Then I roll him on his left side because stool passes a lot easier that way due to the way the intestines are arranged. I lube up a finger and do a test to see how close the stool is to the exit ramp. If it is right at the gate, I have to scoop it out so there is a pocket when when i insert the suppository, it is not touching stool, but is seated against the walls of his bowel.
Last night, he was very temperamental. It was an especially hard time with the bowel care. He has arthritis in his shoulders so his weight is resting on his shoulders. By the end of it, I had to stop prematurely because he just wouldn’t stop yelling at me. So I said that the bowel care is to be concluded for this evening. I did get some out by scooping and i tried manual stimulation to get it flowing.
I tried to get the sheet out from under him so I could put a new sheet under him along with the pad but he just wouldn’t have it. He just kept yelling and yelling. I had to step away before i told him off with the surging of my anger even though what I really wanted to do was yell at him and call him ungrateful along with a host of a lot of other unpleasant things. However, that is unhelpful to both him and I. I stepped away for a moment, took a breather and then went back in and explained to him why i had to do what i needed to do. We rolled him back over, pulled out the sheet, put a new one under him along with the new pad. I straightened him out.
His temperament last until about 8 AM this morning. Him randomly screaming at me that he was going to fall out of bed ( He wasn’t) and that I didn’t care ( I do) and that i dont do anything for him (i do a lot for him) and anyone who knows me personally can attest to what i actually do for him.
This morning he finally calmed down and went to sleep.
It is episodes like this that causes a lot of stress and has a hand in caregiver burnout. Not so much the bowel care, I have no problem with that or the exclamation of pain, which is understandable. It is the outbursts of rage and lying about what i do and dont do and the accusations of not doing anything for him. But mostly its the yelling.
I believe if he wants me to hear him, speaking in an even tone is better than an outburst and a temper tantrum.
While I am not the most seasoned of caregivers, I do have 2 years under my belt, 2 years of 24/7/365 care.
The trick to the anger is to step out of the situation that is causing the anger. Staying to complete the task right then, is a horrible idea unless its such a dire situation. But in this instance, the bowel care, I was able to afford a few moments to step away, take a deep breath, regain my composure, maybe cuss him under my breath to get some of the aggression out before walking in and calmly explaining the reasoning of what i needed to do.
Feeling anger is okay, exploding at the source of your anger is not. They may not mean to do what they are doing. They may not be aware that they are being as difficult as they are. And even if they are, exploding at them is just going to escalate the situation and that is not good for the individual or the caregiver. Taking care of yourself comes first, that is rule #1. Because if the caregiver is not well, how can they be expected to take care of the individual they are tasked to take care of.
When he finally came around this afternoon, he was more himself and couldn’t really recall much. He remember being on his and and having bowel care done but couldn’t remember the outbursts or the accusations or anything negative. This happened quite frequently I’m afraid and i can usually handle it pretty well but last night was a night i had to step away.
It happens to the best of us.