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anger towards caregiver

jim and i's picture
jim and i
Posts: 1788
Joined: May 2011

Has anyone had the cancer patient take their anger and/or frustration out on the caregiver? My husband seems angry and frustrated with me when I ask a question ie What did you say? or when did you take your last meds?

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

Oh, yes, if you read through some of the old posts you will see that this is very common. He isn't mad at you. He is mad at the situation. We just want to make them as comfortable as possible, and they are frustrated that they need help. We're scared. They think we are hovering and maybe we are at times. Besides, who else are they going to take their anger out on? The caregiver is there and a safe person to lash out at. I was able to call my husband on it most of the time, and he would mellow out. If that won't work for you, just walk away knowing that most of us have experienced this at one time or another. Fay

jim and i's picture
jim and i
Posts: 1788
Joined: May 2011

Thanks Fay, I guess I need to toughen up and not take it persona;

Debbie

zinniemay's picture
zinniemay
Posts: 534
Joined: Mar 2009

Debbie, My husbby was that way and once in a while still is , we have been in this battle since 2009. It is normal in a not so normal way that they say and do things as we try to help. Sometimes we just have to step back and let them fall down. Not easy to do but they need to still feel needed. So you are not alone in this. All of us have been in your shoes, it is a learning thing I think. Just Love him and be there for him.
Jennie

mr steve
Posts: 286
Joined: Sep 2009

Been a caregiver for 3 years now and she broke lose on me like stink on a skunk...It hurt like hell, but I hope it made her feel better. With the new chemo and now a blood clot she said she was "just tired of being sick" and who can blame her. just tell him you love him and let it go.

Steve

Faithful_Angel's picture
Faithful_Angel
Posts: 88
Joined: May 2011

Yes, I encounter my dad being angry at me all the time, but I know it's not really me he's angry at it's the situation and This BEAST we all hate and are fighting against. I know it's not easy but sometimes the best thing to do is understand it's not you. I continue doing what I need to for him at that moment and then will most of the time go up to my room where I have a "campchair" that looks out the window that has been labeled as my CRYING chair. That's where I go when things get too much and have a cleansing cry. Sometimes it helps sometimes it doesnt. It's really difficult when you have the person you are caring for and someone else angry at you, even though you know it's not you they are angry at it feels like they are personally attacking you for doing something for them.

Caregiving is the roughest role I have ever been faced with and I have been doing this for many many years. Since I was 9 if I remember correctly only 2 years for my dad though. I would love to just have a Job i can go to and when I come home it's over till i go back in but this is a 24/7 job.

Just hold strong and know it's not you he's mad at. And when you need support or to vent we are here.

Sending Lots of Hugs

Valerie from Kentucky

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

I did a lot of that. It helps, mostly - my goal was not to lash out at him (from him, the anger manifested itself as complaints, cutting comments, nasty you-can't-do-anything-right looks). At one point, I was able to ask him to reserve being critical for things that were important (forgetting to fill his pill-dispenser before bed vs not being able to close the curtains to his satisfaction). He seemed surprised that I thought he'd been critical but I refused to argue about it (I can't win an argument when he can't talk much and even getting a bit emotional hurts his throat) - just asked him to think about it.

He did get better after that, both emotionally and physically. I think he will never believe just how tough he was to live with, but seems willing to take everyone's word for it.

Now, he just get critical when he's stressed - and I can go ahead and blow up at him for it. Nice to be back to normal "grumpiness" again.

I hope your situation gets better. . .

Faithful_Angel's picture
Faithful_Angel
Posts: 88
Joined: May 2011

Funny I'm sitting here almost laughing Knowing you must have a husband much like my dad. I have told him on more than one occasion if i want a "tongue lashing" I'll sign up for the military. He says Ok Point taken...You'd have less worries if you did go into the military...at least you could get some aggression out unlike now...Your having to deal with my moods and this cancer.

So sometimes it does pay to talk to them, in a way they understand.

dianelynn41's picture
dianelynn41
Posts: 71
Joined: Jan 2011

I've been going through a lot of that. Roby just had his APR surgery on May 16th, two weeks in the hospital. After we got home he started running a really high fever one night so I took him to the ER, my name was mud he was convinced it was a waste of time. Well, it turned out to be an infection an absess where they removed his rectum. He finally admitted to the home health care nurse I did the right thing. It's hard but like the others a good cry in the shower usually helps.

Take Care.
Diane

ketziah35
Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

My mother threw an empty cookie tin at me during Xmas. She is a retired award winning elementary school principal and she told me I was a beech under morphine and I was filled ith the devil. Does this answer your question?

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

Thanks for the laugh, Ketz. Last week my mother wanted to argue about which of us had picked up the Ritz crackers at the store. But the funniest is when she tries to curse. The little old lady who won't watch movies with the F word in them will take in as much breath as she can and then say, Oh Sh--. Cracks me up.

Carey1
Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2011

Dear Ketziah
Thank you so much for your post
My beautiful Mum told me today that she knew i did not love her, and was she wanted me out of her sight (she didnot secream this but said it very loudly and repeatedly over and over again)
Thank you for making me feel less alone
xxxxxxx

ButterflyLake's picture
ButterflyLake
Posts: 44
Joined: May 2011

It seems common.

A family friend's husband was very aggressive and angry with her for the last six months before his passing. Blessedly, he found his peace and was able to tell her he loved her before he passed on.

My mom definitely has moments with me (her primary caregiver). Just last week, I cursed (not even a REALLY bad one) when I was with her at hoe. My husband called me from the scene of a car accident where his car had been smashed to bits. She really laced into me for dropping the S-bomb. That's really out of character for her.

Take a breath. Walk away for a minute. Keep yourself operating from a place of love. And take care!

coping in CA
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2011

Maybe now the question is has anyone not had anger taken out on them??? My wife insists that I had already asked her or told her something at least three times before when it is usually the first time. Conversation is non-existent. She used to be in control of everything and saw her role as caretaker for me and our son. Now she can't get out of bed without help and has to be in a rehab facility since it is just not safe for her at home. I know that at home she will try to do something that she is not capable of doing. She is in the hospital now and fell out of bed because the bed alarm was off and she did not call for assistance like she is supposed to.

She is not the woman I married and fell in love with. I just keep reminding myself as we go through this journey and the emotional process that comes with it.

Thanks for reading.

Prayers, blessings and hugs to all.

mr steve
Posts: 286
Joined: Sep 2009

I felt some of the same things as my wife and I have been on this long journey. But there was a clause in our wedding vows that said for better or worse. I am not being condasending, but I use that statement almost weekly as one thing or another goes wrong. It helps me keep things in perspetive and that She is still the woman that I married and always will be. It is the love that keeps me strong. I hope this helps, if not just disregard it. It is only my opinion.

Steve

palmyrafan's picture
palmyrafan
Posts: 397
Joined: Mar 2011

Steve,

You have hit the core of what my husband tells me in reply when I give him his "out". He very gently looks at me and asks, "what part of my marriage vows don't you think I take seriously?" For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. We've been through it all and have come out stronger on the other side.

Peace.

Teresa

mr steve
Posts: 286
Joined: Sep 2009

Teresa,

This morning my wife was getting her weekly blood draw and I was talking to her about your hubbys response "you we drafted, I enlisted" she laughed so hard she almsot fell out of her chair. then she said I like that one...

palmyrafan's picture
palmyrafan
Posts: 397
Joined: Mar 2011

I was so touched the first time my husband said that because I had never thought about it that way before, but he was right.

I'm glad it got a laugh from your wife. Anytime we can laugh during this hellish process, the better.

I am Blessed that my husband has a wonderful sense of humor and always tries to think outside the box about everything, including the pitfalls of life.

Blessings,
Teresa

palmyrafan's picture
palmyrafan
Posts: 397
Joined: Mar 2011

It is common for the patients to take out their frustration, grief, anger, etc. on those around them and caregivers are no exception.

What I have told my husband is he needs to remember that it is the cancer talking, not me. If I feel that I have to constantly watch what I say or how I say it, then I won't focus my energies where I need to, getting well.

The very few times I have gotten angry or discouraged with him, I am quick to apologize, sincerely apologize. I make him look me in the eye and then I tell him how sorry I am about what I said or how I said it. I then tell him that I am having a bad day, but that is no excuse for how I treated him and I ask for his forgiveness.

I can't stress enough how hard it is for you the caregivers to continue to give to the patients. I know it is difficult, especially after months (or years in my case) of having to be the caregiver. I understand my husband's frustration with the cancer. I am also quick to remind my husband to take the time he needs for himself. He works a full-time job, we have a stained glass studio, and he takes care of me. So I encourage him to pursue his passion of playing golf at least once a week.

I, for one, do not underestimate the toll this has taken on my husband nor do I take for granted all that he has sacrificed. That is why I give him an "out" whenever new treatment is needed (surgery, radiation, etc.). The "out" is that he has the right to walk away from the treatment and the marriage if he decides that he has had enough. I love him enough to let him go if that is what he truly wants. After almost 20 years of marriage, he still tells me "you were drafted, but I enlisted".

My husband is my caregiver, but he is also my hero.

Blessings,
Teresa

mr steve
Posts: 286
Joined: Sep 2009

Teresa,

That is a great way to look at it. Next time my wife says anything about it I will that line...

Steve

Carey1
Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2011

Hi Jim,
Iam going through at the moment and its just making me feel shell shocked
I feel a bit better now I have logged on here and I feel less alone.
Hope you are feeling better since your post
sending you warmest thoughts

Paulinebmc
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2016

My father in law is 91. He was diagnosed with prostrate cancer 12 months ago. It has obviously spread quickly as he now has been diagnosed with bone cancer. He was in denial. He has been,  up to the past four months, such an extremely active man, caring for his wife who now has the start of dementia. He can hardly walk, yet insists he can still make meals for him and his wife but relies on the family, particularly myself, to help out. The last couple of weeks has proved so distressing as he has become so angry and basically, extremely nasty, so much so, he's had the family in tears by his comments and aggressive attitude. He has increased the morphine tablets, which he so was against taking any medication and has started on steroids.  I think we have now come to our wits end as we feel we can't take any more and are yet left with a terrible guilt that we have to be there even though his behaviour is becoming unbearable. Can anyone please advise what we can do to help him! 

DavidsMom2011
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2016

Hi Pauline, my grandfather was also the primary caretaker for grandma, and when he got sick it wasn't just anger but fear, hopelessness, frustration that made him lash out. Luckily (?) one day my grandma (who also had mild dementia) just didn't wake up, she was lucky enough to pass away in her sleep at home in bed. His burden to care for her was immediately lifted. He still is easily angered, and says things he shouldn't, and it hurts to hear, but one strategy we have is to send in a decoy- someone to keep him occupied and talking while the worker bees clean house, stock the fridge, check medicine, whatever. Also, getting his pain under control is very important. Try talking to the doctor about which pain meds he is on, if there may be a better option. Also, they give my son Adderall for energy and it greatly improves his mood, too (he has end-stage brain cancer and can also be very moody/angry). Its amazing what the right medicine can do! Best wishes!

Noellesmom
Posts: 1610
Joined: Aug 2010

To his doctor or nurse would be the first step

 Steroids can make people very aggressive and emotional.  Morphine can do the same for some people.

A couple of weeks can be difficult but so is the bone pain he is experiencing.  It is excruciating.

I don't know his prognosis but it may be time for hoe. They will help with control of the pain which is the first goal.

I would also suggest some home help, too, for preparation of meals.

I know this is hard. I am sorry. 

ssc1202
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2016

This is all new and raw for me. My husband was just recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma at the base of his tongue. He has had only 1 chemo treatment along with the steroids. He is a big burly former football coach who doesn't handle being sick well. He has been so irritable and grumpy but only with me!! I know it's the chemo talking but it's really hard to not take it personally.  I cry a lot because I don't know what to say and try not to upset him. 

i am relieved to read previous comments and know it isn't just me!!

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