At one time or another, people in close relationships sometimes say mean things.
Over time, caring people in very tough circumstances with too little training, support or assistance can resort to meanness directed to an older adult that they very much care for. You may feel numb to your ever-inching stress until you blurt out a mean comment and feel a wave of guilt rolling through your body.
How can we let ourselves get so stressed? Caregivers tend to contain stress. They hold it in to protect themselves and their person with dementia. Significant stigma surrounds both dementia and caregiving. Asking for help is also frowned upon in our society. Caregivers are generally more comfortable giving than receiving. Expressing meanness is the opposite of their goal and may induce feelings of shame. Care partners have given and continue to give so much, and that’s when the meanness happens. When they are sliding to or at the end of their rope.