Boomer Care Giving: Resentment to Gratitude
by Susan Riley, CPC
The theme of giving thanks surrounds us this holiday season and many
of us have contemplated things we are grateful about. When talking with
individuals from the baby boomer generation who are also caregivers for
their parents or other loved ones, a sense of resentment often rises out of
the discussion. Many are grateful for their growing up years, while others
have made peace with childhood challenges and at the same time feel
they never bargained for the caregiver role they are now thrust into. Many
feel that this should happen later in life, just not right now. Challenges
in addition to care giving can be; children living in or out of the house,
including grandchildren, expenses involved, and working longer than hoped
for because of shrinking retirement funds. All of this might conjure up some
frustration and resentment.
So what about gratitude? Well, I’ve learned a powerful lesson about choice
that can go either direction. If I focus on what’s not working in my life my
mind looks for more things that aren’t working and it becomes a downward
spiral. On the flip side, when I focus on things I’m grateful for, more and
more things show up in alignment with that focus. The short explanation
is “what you focus on expands”. Think about how succinct and powerful
that statement is.
Years ago, Oprah invited Sara Ban Breathnach on her show. Sara had
just written a book called Simple Abundance and they both strongly
recommended that everyone start a gratitude journal. They suggested writing
down three things every day that they were grateful for and in 90 days their life would be transformed. I took on this challenge with an “I’ll see” attitude.
I did the exercise every day and on some days when I wasn’t the least bit
grateful, I still wrote things down. I had marked my calendar for the end of
90 days and didn’t feel any different. Hmm I thought, but just a few days
later I “got it” my life really was transformed!
This was a long pathway to get to boomer care giving and resentment. I
invite you to take on the 90 day gratitude pledge. Find a gratitude partner
or a certified life coach to support you and remember, what you focus on
expands. We all have the choice to decide what we’re going to focus on. Ask
yourself what you are grateful for related to your aging parent. If not in the
present, what fond memories do you have from a former time that makes
And by the way, there is another part to the gratitude story. After sharing
with my elderly mother about gratitude and sending numerous cards as
well as conversations acknowledging her with specific grateful statements,
she seemed to “get it!” My mother has started using “what you focus on
expands” with beautifully expressed letters sent to me and others, full of
gratitude. I can just “see” her smiling as she writes. This is a woman who is
challenged with depression, dementia and the inability to smile or open her
mouth wide enough to bite a hamburger due to facial nerve damage. Now
she is calling and writing about how grateful she is to have me in her life.
Wow, that’s the power of choosing to be grateful!
What are you going to focus on this holiday season?
That’s all for now, kudos and gratitude for all you do in the lives of your
elderly loved ones.
All the Best to you on this journey!
Susan Riley, M. Ed
Certified Professional Life Coach
Boomer Caregiver Coaching