Sunday, April 6, 2014

When Dealing With Non-Caregivers, Hold the Rancour.

Every week I spend some time looking at the many excellent blogs that I know of written by caregivers and those suffering from dementia. A lot of these bloggers are kind enough to list me on their blogs, or they stop by occasionally and leave comments, and I try to return the compliment. Inevitably, I will scroll down the list that most bloggers have of the blogs they follow or enjoy and I will click on those that look interesting, then click on links I find on those blogs, and so on. I also spend time on some Facebook groups I belong to and forums that I read. On all of these sites, I have noticed sometimes, a disturbing tendency towards attacking non-caregivers, or people who are uneducated about caregiving, or just others who say, admittedly, stupid things about caregiving.

I read a post the other day that was positively flaming with anger, describing a conversation that the writer had, or wished she had had, with someone who made a careless comment about dementia and those suffering from it. The writer was incensed that this person would not only make this comment but would perform the act that the comment described. The writer ranted about the stupidity and selfishness of the person and how she wanted to set her straight.

Other posts I have read elsewhere also lambast people who have made careless comments to the poster, or been thoughtless in their actions, or performed some other crime against caregiving. And believe me, I have been subject to some pretty stupid, and really hurtful, comments and actions myself. I have been abandoned by friends and family at challenging moments, and have had to listen to the ignorance of others who didn't understand what I was going through with Dad, and I have been angry. And I also understand that these blogs and groups and forums and posts are vehicles for caregivers to let off steam and deal with some very understandable and grievous stress and frustration. I can choose not to read them. I have also probably written some angry words myself.

However, I can't help but think that if we could just educate people about what we are going through, instead of yelling at them. If we could just help them understand what is happening to our loved ones - and, let's face it, may very well happen to their loved ones in the future - maybe we could help the next caregiver that person encounters, or maybe that person will do something caring or helpful at the next opportunity. In addition, we don't know what that person's experiences might have been, or why they are making the comment or performing the action. Perhaps the dementia sufferer they won't visit or are crude about was abusive to them. We just don't know people's personal stories.

A little more compassion, for everyone we encounter, might not be such a bad idea. Maybe if we held the rancor a little, as justifiable as it might be, we could change people, and the caregiving struggle, for the better, just a little bit.

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