Are You an Unconscious Caregiver?

If you’re providing care on a regular basis for elderly loved ones, are you doing it on autopilot?

Many of us are.

Chances are good that you have an unconscious program running in the deepest recesses of your brain that’s telling you what to think, feel, and do as a caregiver.

Maybe you promised your spouse decades ago that you would never put them in a facility. Maybe you take very seriously the biblical command to honor your parents by caring for them in their old age. Maybe you feel a sense of obligation to your parents because they cared for you when you were young. They changed your diapers then; you’ll change their diapers now.

People think that caregiving is all about the “how” and the “when” and the “where.”

It’s not. It’s really about the “who” and the “why.”

Who do you need to love and protect? Who is on the journey with you? Who is available to help so your life isn’t sucked dry by the demands of care?

Why have you chosen to provide care? Why are you doing the thing you are doing?

Once you’ve answered those questions, the “what,” “where,” and “how” are easier to determine, especially if you have a team of professionals there to assist, like the team you get when you have a Life Care Plan for your elderly loved one. 

If you’re responsible for the care of an older relative, it’s important to get to the bottom of the “who” and the “why.”

Deep down inside your “why” are caregiving scripts, those unconscious beliefs that define your attitude about providing care. These internal scripts define what being a caregiver means to you and what it means about you. These internal scripts define how you talk about it to yourself and how you talk about it to others.

Your personal caregiving scripts can predict how you manage the opportunities, obstacles, and burdens that these responsibilities can create in your life. These scripts will reveal how you view the responsibility. Is it a resented, unwanted obligation? Or something else?

I bet you know at least one person who seems overwhelmed by the care of an elderly loved one. They don’t ask for help because they believe they have to manage on their own. Maybe they’re afraid to say no to their loved one. Maybe they are neglecting their own health in order to provide 24/7 care. That’s their caregiving script at work.

What is your caregiving script?

Identifying the internalized beliefs guiding your unconscious behavior is the first step toward taking back control and putting your scripts to work for you (not against you).

One of the best ways to identify your unconscious caregiving scripts is to do some self-reflection. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers.

  • What does it mean to be a good caregiver?
  • Where and how did I learn this?
  • What does it mean about me if I ask for help from other family members?
  • What does it mean about me if I pay for help from outside professionals?
  • What does it mean about me if I put my loved one in a facility?

Once you’ve identified your unconscious caregiving scripts, you’ll be in a better position to evaluation your current situation and decide if any changes are needed. If you want to bounce your ideas off a professional, a Life Care Planning Law Firm is a great place to start. Find one near you.