Caregiver identity affects stress level?

I came across this article this morning on how you define your role in life. Mom, wife, friend…caregiver? And it seems that the definition we use also affects our stress level.

It really rang true for me:

Many of us don’t think of ourselves as caregivers, even when we’re living the definition.”

Your identity, it turns out, affects your stress level.

It works like this: If you think of yourself one way (“I’m just being a dutiful daughter,” “I’m my husband’s wife) but you’re functioning another way (increasingly as a hands-on caregiver), there’s a disconnect. “If you think of yourself as maybe one-quarter a caregiver, but you’re functioning as a halftime caregiver, that equals stress,” Brintnall-Peterson says. “You don’t have a playbook for Caregiving, because you’re focused on Wife. You feel uncomfortable without realizing why.”

Why are caregivers so reluctant to adopt the mantle of “caregiver”? In part, I think, it’s because this new identity is unexpected, unwanted, and scary.

So true. I don’t want this job.

It’s one thing to care for children, who learn, grow and become more self-reliant everyday. It’s quite another to care for an aging relative, who becomes gradually less self-reliant daily. Plus if that relative is a parent, I believe it comes with a whole host of other psychological issues stemming from your childhood and youth.

One of my issues, for example, is that Mom & I wouldn’t BE in this boat at this point if she had taken better care of herself.

And so, off I go this morning to get a workout in before I take Mom to the kidney clinic…

What do you think about all of this?


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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One Response to Caregiver identity affects stress level?

  1. Shell says:

    This hits home in so many ways.

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