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How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy

by Richard Bitner
How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy

Caregiving can be an emotional situation, one that leads to unexpected feelings and conflicts. One of the more the common feelings felt in caregiving situations is jealousy. How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy
Feelings of jealousy are rarely expected by families who are starting out with caregiving. But anyone who’s seen the way caregiving relationships develop will understand how these feelings happen. Whether care is provided by a family member, a professional caregiver, or a combination of both, caregivers are often the targets of jealousy.
At Visiting Angels®, feelings of jealousy are something we commonly deal with in caregiving situations. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years on how to handle caregiving-related jealousy.

Questions to Ask About Caregiver-Related Jealousy

Jealousy toward caregivers can occur in a number of different ways, and the best way to address feelings of jealousy will depend on the specific situation. Key factors include who is providing care, where jealous feelings are coming from, and the severity of the situation.
Who’s Providing Care?When a caregiver is the target of jealous feelings, who’s providing care makes a big difference. If a family member is providing care, existing family dynamics will need to be considered when addressing feelings of jealousy. If care is provided by a professional caregiver, the lack of pre-existing dynamics could make it easier to resolve feelings of jealousy or — if necessary — bring in a new caregiver.
Who’s Feeling Jealous?Jealousy toward caregivers can come from different people, and sometimes comes from multiple people at once. Usually, jealous feelings are coming from someone in one of the following categories:

  • The Care Recipient.Sometimes, the person receiving care can become possessive of their relationship with their caregiver. They may feel jealous that the caregiver is spending time with other clients, their own family, or taking care of themselves.
  • The Recipient’s Spouse.Some of the most powerful feelings of jealousy come from spouses of people receiving care services. Spouses start to feel neglected or unwanted as their partner is cared for by someone else.
  • The Recipient’s Children.Care recipients’ children sometimes experience feelings of jealousy similar to those felt by spouses. They may feel that a family caregiver has become favored by the person being cared for, or they may feel like a professional caregiver has replaced them in their role of supporting their parent.

How Severe Is the Situation?How you approach feelings of jealousy in a caregiving situation will depend on how severe those feelings are. The more jealous a person is, the more sensitive you may need to be in handling the situation. You may also need to take mental and cognitive health factors into account. Cognitive decline and mental health challenges can make it difficult to address these situations directly. In such cases, it is better to manage and accommodate jealous feelings rather than tackle them head on.

Addressing Jealousy Toward Caregivers

“Anytime you’re trying to address feelings of jealousy, it’s important to be sensitive to everyone’s feelings,” says Larry Meigs, CEO and President of Visiting Angels and a twenty-year veteran of the caregiving industry. “Emotions run high in these discussions. So, a confrontational approach is rarely constructive.”
Larry says that when feelings of jealousy are coming from a care recipient, it is often important to help the person receiving care see things from the caregiver’s perspective. “Sometimes, seniors don’t realize the expectations they’re placing on caregivers and how those expectations impact caregivers’ lives. It’s easy for jealous feelings to crop up without thinking through why a caregiver might need to spend time with other people.”
In cases where jealousy is coming from a spouse or another family member, Larry suggests framing the discussion around what’s best for the person receiving care. “Ultimately, we all want what’s best for our loved ones. So, if you can help someone see that their loved one needs their caregiver to age happily and comfortably, that can help defuse jealousy feelings.”
If feelings of jealousy can’t be resolved, Larry says that a change of caregivers may be necessary. “Home care agencies know that a change of caregiver can sometimes be positive,” he says. “That might mean bringing in a professional caregiver so that a family member is no longer the target of jealousy. Or it might mean changing your loved one’s home care professional.”
At Visiting Angels, our Select Your Caregiver® program has helped families find the right caregiver for their loved ones. By focusing on both the physical and emotional needs of clients, this program has made it easier for seniors to find a care provider that they — and their family members — are comfortable with.
If you’re currently looking for a caregiver for your loved one, we invite you to learn more about our Select Your Caregiver program onlineor to contact your local Visiting Angels office.
How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy How to Handle Caregiving Related Jealousy

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