At one time or another, most of us have felt as though we can’t please anyone, let alone everyone. Caregivers are even more susceptible to this feeling, and it’s one that has the power to fill us with angst, guilt, and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. When that happens, we would be wise to remember a sage quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson; “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

Find Peace By Doing Your Best

Caregivers are often put in positions that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves. Perhaps you’ve been named power of attorney. You may not be bursting with joy at this prospect, but you assume the responsibility knowing that you are fulfilling a role your loved one felt you were best equipped to handle. Accepting this position will undoubtedly mean making decisions that won’t be popular with everyone, and it won’t be easy.

As Don Miguel Ruiz advises in his book, The Four Agreements, moving forward with a clear and peaceful heart can be boiled down to four words of advice: Always do your best. When you do your best, you have no reason to feel guilt or to second guess your decisions or actions.

Unfortunately, dealing with push back, unsolicited advice, and people who are unhappy with you is part of the job. You may even get negative comments from people who could be an active part of the caregiving process, but choose not to be. Let’s face it, it’s very easy to give advice from the sidelines, when you aren’t the one in the weeds day in and day out. I’ve talked to so many people struggling with this type of situation.

There’s Only So Much to Go Around

You may also have people in your life who feel as though you aren’t giving them enough of your energy and attention; that you’re too wrapped up in caregiving and that the little bit of time you get for yourself should be spent with them. It sounds ludicrous, but it’s a common problem, and if you let it, this can really get you down. The fact is, you only have so much bandwidth, and you can’t be everything to everyone. People who truly care about you will understand and respect that.

No matter how much energy and effort you put forth, someone will be unhappy. At the end of the day, we have to be able to face ourselves in the mirror and know that we did our best. Remind yourself often that you are doing your best every step of the way, with your loved one’s greatest interests and your own well being at heart. Stay strong and confident in your decisions, thoughts, and actions, and peace will follow.

Does this sound all too familiar? Share your experience by leaving a comment, and you’ll likely be helping someone else in their own journey.





  1. Beth

    I so agree with this article. My father is the primary care giver for my mom, she has Alzheimer’s. Certain family members get upset with him when he leaves my mom with a close friend so he can do things that would not be possible to do with her present. My mom and her friend love spending time with each other and it makes mom happy to visit with her. This family member seems to think dad should be with her 24/7. She was diagnosed approx. 13 years ago. Due to remarks made directly to my father he is second guessing everything he does now. He is an amazing man and does an incredible job of caring for mom. It makes me so sad to see how hard he is trying and to be rewarded by this family member by insults and negativity. It is clear this person is neither willing or capable of assisting. However, is willing to judge how my dad is doing it. It just makes me very sad to see my dad doubting himself. The depth at which he is so dedicated to improving my mom’s quality of life is the true definition of love. I know it hurts him beyond words when he is perceived as not doing the best he can. I try to encourage him and tell him how great he is and how proud I am to be his daughter. I can only pray he takes my words to heart, and understand that you will never please everyone. And that is not his burden to carry.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Beth, what a sad story. My heart goes out to your dad. It sounds like he is doing everything he possible can and has no reason to doubt himself or the decisions he is making. I hear these stories all too often, and it’s typically the person who is the least involved in the actual day to day care that has all kinds of “suggestions” as to how things “should” be done – yet they have no interest in pitching in to help. Caregivers place enough guilt on themselves without having the burden of the “critiques” of others to deal with. Sending a prayer up that your dad will find some peace. ~Ann

  2. Sharon

    I am a caregiver. Everything I just read prior to your comments are true. Others who refuse or won’t offer help are critics of our time devoted to an elderly or sick person. My biggest critic is the one that actually encouraged me to be the power of attorney for a dear friend. Just recently moved her to an assisted living and held on as even though she was ready for the move she became angry and despondent for the first two weeks. Now we are finally beyond week three and the anger has subsided. No matter what I will give her as many hours as I possibly can. When I need outside help for her I hire helpers. Always be polite to others and hope they return the politeness. Sharon

    • Ann Napoletan

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Sharon. It takes a special person to assume that kind of responsibility for a friend; she is fortunate to have you. I hope she continues to adjust to her new surroundings. It definitely takes awhile, doesn’t happen overnight. And, it’s not always a continuous path. You may think she’s gone a step forward and a week later, she’ll take two steps back. It takes patience, but she will gradually get acclimated and hopefully even enjoy being in an environment where there are other people, activities, etc. Take care, sending you blessings. ~Ann

  3. Nancy

    No one can fathom the toll that caregiving takes unless that person has walked in those shoes. My husband and I take care of his mother that has Alzheimer’s, his great aunt who is 99 years old and has congestive heart failure, my mother who has COPD and my sister who has fronto-temporal dementia. There is only us to do it and no one else. All are homebound and need care multiple times a day. We basically go to work, get off and go to our next job – them. All chores, errands, dr. visits etc. have to be done by us. There is little time to devote to each other or a social life. We have tried sitters, home health only to have more problems due to their demands that it only be done by us. When there is a second of free time, we have to hear why don’t you come spend some time just visiting and sit and talk. You are always so busy when you come here. None of them realize we are never alone or together as a couple anymore b/c our days and nights and middle of the nights are spent taking care of four people in 3 different locations. When the phone rings, we cringe b/c we know some “crisis” awaits that needs immediate attention whether its an emergency or not. We try to take a deep breath and say that when this season of our life has passed we will look back and say we did everything and beyond for our loved ones. What scares me the most though is that when that time comes we will have nothing left to give to each other. If there is even a marriage left to be had. Life has pulled us in different directions and we are just two people on automatic pilot. We are now in our 6th year of caregiving and each year gets harder and harder and harder. Our family members have every need met while we have no energy either physically, mentally, or emotionally to meet each other’s needs. Friends mean well but even those who are caregivers for one aging parent still can’t imagine the stress and strain we are under taking care of four at one time. It is never enough, good enough, or if it is, it is short lived. I’ve had good friends say that I need to stop stressing and just enjoy the time with them. Friends who actually get upset with me when I vent at how hard it is or how overwhelmed I am. They feel I should realize how dependant they are and that its awful that I complain about how worn out we are. We truly love them for if we didn’t we would never do what we do. But no one in their right mind would ever choose to live this life. Before its all over, we are so worried at how much harder it will get. Sometimes it is more than one can bare. We sleep with one eye open like if you have a newborn b/c you have to be alert enough to hear the phone ring. We can’t go away overnight to reconnect b/c you have to be on “duty”. And even with all the daily care we still walk away feeling guilty that we were too tired or didn’t stay another half hour to talk or were a bit short tempered or left and someone wasn’t feeling well but we just had to get a break for an hour. Its never enough in their eyes and its way too much sometimes in ours. All I know is we are doing our best to keep them happy, healthy and loved. My husband was laid off a year ago and has only found part time employment b/c no one will hire him with all the other obligations and responsiblities he has due to family members. So we suffer financially now also. I know the old saying is true that “this too shall pass” but its so sad b/c for it to pass that means they have all died and its sad b/c in order to regain some normalcy in our life it will have to be that all our family is gone and there will be no one to share that life with. But in reality none of us, them or us, are really living at this point. We are only existing. There are no winners here.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Nancy, my heart goes out to you… I can’t even imagine how you’re handling all of this. It’s too much for one family to bear. As far as your friends, there is no way they can even remotely understand what you and your husband are dealing with, and that’s why they say insensitive things. The fact is, you are doing your best – well beyond what most people would do. Actually what you’re doing is nothing short of amazing… just the fact that you have the energy to put one foot in front of the other is a miracle. Have you tried to find a support group in your area, perhaps through the Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, or your local Office on Aging? Spending 30 minutes a week with people who are more likely to understand and empathize might be helpful. If nothing else, you will know you aren’t alone in your feelings. Just a thought. I will be praying for you. (((Hugs))) ~Ann

  4. Betsy Lutz

    I feel better since I read this blog tonight. Unfortunately, I AM alone in this and I’m really burned out according to the Palliative Care nurse who sees my mother once a month. In the last four years I’ve lost my husband and father literally, and figuratively I’ve lost my mother to Parkinson’s dementia – she’s in there somewhere but no one can find her anymore. My brother is no help at all, says it upsets him too much to visit, and I’m too tired to blast him out of this world for not being more attentive. I’m at the nursing home every day for several hours; I have one night free each week and Sunday morning breakfast with some childhood friends (I moved back home two years ago to take care of Mother). Bro comes once a week for 45 minutes. Everyone tells me to get some rest, and I’d love to know how; I have Parkinson’s myself, which cannot withstand stress or fatigue. Any suggestions, anyone?……….Betsy

    • Ann Napoletan

      Betsy, I’m happy you are finding the blog helpful. You certainly have your hands full, but I’m glad to hear you are continuing your weekly breakfast with friends. Don’t give that up – it’s a great way to get a break and take your mind off of your day to day responsibilities for awhile. So many caregivers are isolated from the “outside world” and that leads to depression and loneliness, which can also take a toll on one’s physical health. As far as getting rest, depending on your financial situation, perhaps you could hire a “sitter” to come a couple of days a week for a few hours. Even if you just use the time to sit outside and read a book or take a mid-afternoon nap, knowing that your mom had company and was safe during that time might help you to relax.

      You mention a Palliative Care nurse. Is your mom on hospice? If so, ask if they can provide a companion to give you a break for a few hours here and there. There are companies that specialize in providing “sitters” for this sort of situation, and many of them are absolutely wonderful. We had a couple of incredibly caring, compassionate women sit with my mom in her latter stages, and it was arranged by hospice. If they can’t provide that service, ask about getting a home health aide to come two or three times each week to help with showers; even that would provide you a bit of a break.

      Check out the Caregivers Survival Network, too. It’s a great way to connect with other caregivers and compare notes, share ideas, et cetera. Sending you warm thoughts and prayers – hang in there, Betsy. ~Ann

  5. Ella

    Reading everyones’ comments I have to take a free moment (from being a caregiver to my brother) to thank all for sharing their plights. To read tales from others, who share the same trials and tribulations of being a caregiver, is beneficial. I made a decision to care for my brother, knowing the commitment, because I love him. I believe many of us take on the caregiver role because of two 4 letter words, love and care. We must not forget how special we are; some would not and do not take on the task or they make a choice to relinquish it. I often wonder if others realize the magnitude of energy, emotional and physical, involved in my brother’s care? Do they know all that is involved as his disease progresses? There are ongoing changes and decisions (I dwell on them) that occur. There have been emotional and financial changes on this journey as well, we’ve weathered the storm. I see his changes on a daily basis and realize his frustration, feel his agitation. I remind myself to watch what I say and what I do to lessen his burden. I sense when he needs more or less attention and I try to adapt accordingly. I know this is the disease, not him, and must continue to educate myself, so I do. This is a responsibility not to be taken lightly with no room for errors. I don’t know if one ever gets used to being tired, hungry or stressed? I ask myself am I not allowed to feel a range of many emotions? I often have to remind myself to remember to take care of me. God Bless All Caregivers – Take Care of You

  6. Joellen Simpson

    My family has put me in a difficult positon. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer in August 2012. She is pretty well through the 1st stage and starting the 2nd stage. She was living alone in her condo by herself, but one of us, me, my sister, my uncle or my 2 daughters would be there every night to make sure she had dinner. Since October, I had been trying to find out who was going to be power of attorney for mom just in case we needed to start making decisions for her. Nobody would tell me. It was such a secret and I don’t know why. On December 15, 2012, my sister had scheduled an appointment for me, my uncle and mom to visit Emeritus at Lakeview which is right next door to mom’s condo. I thought we were going in and look around, talk to the people there and then go back to mom’s to discuss what mom wanted to do. Well that did not happen!! I found out that day who had power of attorney, my sister who had been lying to me all this time. She signed up mom so fast and on December 31,2012 we were moving mom in. Mom did agree to try it but never signed any papers. My uncle and my sister was behind all of this because they were getting tired of coming to her condo. They both thought out of sight, out of mind. Mom has been there 3 months and not a happy camper. She wants to go home. She finally agreed to take Aricept and it is definitely helping her become more focused than she was. Unfortunately, my uncle and my mom’s attorney is the same person and now my uncle is calling the shots and using my sister as a pawn, at least that is what I think. So I still go on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays and sometimes Saturdays if my daughter, Katie, can’t do it. I’m still in charge of getting her medicine in her container for the week and ordering and picking up refills.
    I also still take her out to dinner when I’m there. I have refused to do what my sister asked to stop taking her out. My sister said she has to get use to going down to the dining room and she’s paying for 2 meals. Well if the food was worth eating at Emeritus Mom probably wouldn’t mind it. Mom has lost 8 pounds in 2 months because the food is so horrible. As long as I can make mom happy I’m going to do that. There will be a day when I won’t be able to do that for her and I will have no regrets. Then mom’s attorney, who is taking directions from my uncle, told my sister to take mom’s debt card, checkbook, Humana Card and Social Security Card. So now every time mom has to get her prescriptions or go to the store to get a few things, she has to ask my sister for money every week. Mom’s bank statements are mailed to my sister’s house and mom has no idea what is going on with her checkbook. Mom is very angry about this and called her attorney to demand he not listen to her brother. The attorney said because of your condition we have to do it that way. I was there when mom called him and I could hear every word he said to her. Mom said to him, I may have Alzheimer, but I’m not crazy yet. The attorney told mom that her brother thinks it’s best this way. I yelled out that’s conflict of interest. This is not how I wanted things to go. I wanted to gradually take her time moving in and make it very positive for her, but my sister rushed her in there so fast mom did not have a chance to even think about it. I never imagined this would go down like it did. I’m sure by now mom wishes she had picked me over my sister to be power of attorney, but that is water over the dam now and I am doing my best to make mom as happy as possible and my daughters and I will have all the good memories with mom. It has been really hard watching my mother deteriorate, but I will always be there for her through the good and bad times.

  7. Debra

    My mom was just ‘finally’ diagnosed with vascular dementia after an MRI has shown multiple small stokes. We suspected Alzheimersvas it runs in the family and that is still a possibility as well. My mom lives with my brother and I do all the medical visits, grocery store and other trips and we take her to church. My biggest concern is my brothers insistence that mom is able to self care more than she is. Her clothes are dirty, her hair is uncombed and she has bathroom accidents that he ignores. I cook meals for them and have paid for a housekeeper for them but our conflict is that I think it’s time to do the power of attorney to take care of her finances. We found out that she is getting letters from the IRS for not filing taxes for several years. She keeps losing and replacing debit cards that she doesn’t know how to use and she’s getting late fees and sky high interest rates for not making payments. She insists on carrying wads of cash and drops half of it at grocery stores. I am concerned, but made to think I am jumping the gun at thinking we need to get power of attorney. Her neurologist and internist have both stated we should do this . My brother has convinced my mom that I am trying to run her life. I’m worried my moms bank account is dwindling under my brothers watch as she supplements his income too much. Is there anything I can do? My other brother and I worry she is being financially compromised.

    • Ann Napoletan

      I would definitely seek advice from an attorney specializing in elder law. It sounds like you’re in a tough spot and have some very valid concerns. You’re right to want to get everything in order before she declines any further – it will be much more difficult down the road if she becomes incapacitated and there is no POA. There’s also no time like the present to get financial matters in order as you don’t know what the future holds with regard to care she might need. While you’re at it, look into a POA for health care and a living will. Get as much help from the docs as possible. Perhaps they can talk reasonably with your mother and/or brother. When I knew my mom should no longer be driving, I used her doc to help with that – as devastating as it was, somehow I think the fact that it came from a medical professional rather than her daughter helped a bit. Best wishes to you. Hang tough and follow your heart. ~Ann

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>