Tag Archives: family caregiver

Caregiver Martyr Syndrome – What to Look For and How to Help

Caregivers of older adults are some of the most selfless, committed people on the planet.   Simply put, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver.  The problem lies in the fact that some caregivers believe they are the only ones who can care properly for their family member.  This is often referred to as Caregiver Martyr Syndrome.

martyr, 3D rendering, traffic signI’ve talked about this martyr syndrome many times over the years when speaking to family caregivers.  Often I get an inquisitive look – like “Wow” she just called me a Martyr.  When I follow-up my question with assuring them that I got an A+ in the school of caregiver martyrdom,  I would hear and feel  sighs of relief, as if I had just given them permission to be honest with themselves.

Caregiver martyrs are certain that they are the ONLY ones who can properly care for their loved one.  Because they are such caring and selfless souls, they become intertwined in the needs and desires of their loved one, so much so that it could easily be confused with co-dependence.  So, if a caregiver believes “I am the only one that can properly care for mom”, then guess what happens?

  • Other family members and friends become “inadequate” to care for your loved one.  This spells resentment and stirs up anger among the caring circle.
  • Caregiver martyrs take on more and more responsibility, often to the detriment of their own needs or those of their family.
  • As this snowball continues, caregivers isolate themselves (and their loved one ) from many people who are willing (and able) to help in the care of their loved one.

Martyrs need to step back and reflect – then get out a paper and pen, listing all of the things they do for their loved one AND all of their other life responsibilities.  When I ask caregivers to do this, they are often shocked to see all they have taken on.  Then the big question:

Is it really possible for anyone to take on this much responsibility and do it well?  The answer is clearly NO.   So the next step is to allow others to help by taking on some of these tasks, whether they are things that must be done every day, every week or every month.  Go back to your caring circle and allow each of them the blessing of choosing something that will lighten your load.

Being open to accept help, and realizing that you are not the only person on the planet who can provide good care for your loved one may be the greatest gift you can give to yourself, your family members, friends, and most of all your care receiver.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Caring for her own parents transformed her life purpose to help others who are caring for older adults.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience, this program is helping thousands of caregivers in the US and abroad to better understand people living with dementia.  


The World needs more AGE-u-caters! Are you one of them?

The rapid pace of our aging world is changing the face of every facet of our society from health and long term care, to faith communities and business establishments.  Across the spectrum, issues such as these are at the forefront of leadership discussions:

  • Dementia friendly hospitals – how do we transition as the average patient age increases and cognitive impairment becomes more prevalent
  • Person and Resident-centered long term care – how do we properly train the current workforce and prepare for the shortage that is already upon us and certain to become even more severe in the near future?
  • Families caring for older adults make up the largest percentage of caregivers in the US and the world.  How do we educate, support and provide resources to help them cope with the physical, financial, emotional and spiritual challenges of the caregiving journey?
  • Faith Communities are faced with ministering and caring for their skyrocketing numbers of aging adults, yet often lack the training, staff and volunteers to meet the complex needs of their members and families.  How do they receive guidance and training to help them further their ministry and mission in helping those in need?
  • Age friendly communities, businesses and organizations must have a plan and guidance to successfully meet changing demographics.  Who can help with better understanding the needs of older adults?

Aging educators and trainers work with long term care providers, hospitals, the business community, families, faith communities, and public agencies.  They are trained in a variety of aging and caregiver topics,  whether one is a professional or family care partner, business person who serves an older adult population, or serves either of these groups with public resources.  We call them AGE-u-caters and they are part of our team at the AGE-u-cate® Training Institute!

AGE-u-caters are  seasoned professionals in the aging field, coming from the senior care industry, clinicians, social work or education.  All have a passion to help others by using their skills to train, educators and coach others.  Often they are looking for a career change, recently retired from long term regular employment, or supplementing retirement income or other part time work.

AGE-u-caters are networkers, involved in their communities and continually learning about the aging field.  They are part of a fast growing worldwide network aging advocates in their local and regional communities.

The world needs more AGE-u-caters!  Could you be one of them?


Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  She is a passionate advocate for aging adults and those that care for them and is leading a fast growing network of worldwide AGE-u-caters who offer innovative and powerful training and education programs – creating transformative change for an aging world!  


Senior Care – How Our Pets Teach Us Life Lessons

pet lossHow Losing A Pet Is Much Like Losing a Loved One

Our pets are like members of the family. Meet Sadie – our vivacious, furry family member pictured here at 3 months old. Labrador Retrievers at this age are a non-stop ball of energy. Leave a sock on the floor and it instantly becomes a pile of thread, or a new game of hide and seek. Strangers? I don’t think Sadie ever knew that word existed. Water? That’s meant for swimming.. endlessly.

Sadie was, as my son described her, the MVP of campers. In fact, our treasured family camping trips centered around Sadie. Will there be a lake or hiking trails? And Sadie always chose where and with whom she wanted to sleep at any given time. Since our activities centered around what Sadie would enjoy, it made things easy. She loved EVERYTHING about camping, especially being with us and meeting new friends. Sadie would always introduce herself to our camping neighbors. She would sometimes wander off to explore new trails, strange critters, and/or new scents but she always came back to her family because she loved us and she knew she was the queen bee.

Saying good-bye to Sadie

With the whole family present and a lot of tears, we had to have Sadie laid to rest last week. At over 14, she was in ill health; despite pain medications and other palliative measures, it was clear that every day was a struggle for her to get around. And while she couldn’t tell us what parts of her body were failing her, we could sense growing discomfort and complications taking place. Up to the very last second of her life, Sadie never stopped pouring out her boundless love and certainly relished the affection and trust we shared. Our relationship over the years was a bond that encircled our lives. Even as our children grew up and left home, that bond would be rekindled in an instant with Sadie when they came home to visit.

How pets teach us about life

Pets are soulful creatures that teach us about the importance of trusting relationships, comfort, touch, playfulness, love of nature and so much more. These traits never left Sadie.. not even when she was at the end of life. These intact abilities remain for us humans as we age. There are many good websites that deal with the loss of a beloved pet.  Here is a good blog that deals with pet grieving. It talks about pets in a very human way.


Culture Change – It Runs Deep

Culture ChangeI use the term inside-out a LOT. It just seems to fit many descriptives for me. I also like transformative change. When you look at these together, I believe that so much of what we are doing as educators in the elder care field should be focused on helping organizations bring about inside-out changes that lead to transformation or deep culture change. I love the work being done through such organizations at Pioneer Network, Leading Age, Eden Alternative and so many others that have stepped up to create out of the box initiatives and thinking. It’s not an easy task, but I’m privileged to be a part of this movement and work alongside organizations across the country who are taking bold steps in person-centered care. It’s exciting, challenging, sometimes daunting – but the efforts of just one person can have exponential effects across an organization. Hats off to all of those who are blazing new trails!