The Fall Guy

I’ve often shared with family caregivers that I’d rather have a loved one safe and mad at grandpame then unsafe and happy with me.  While this is true, I am the first to admit that it sucks feeling like I always have to be the “bad guy”.

Some examples from my caregiving journey include being blamed for:

  • “Putting” someone in the psychiatric unit (My Grandpa threaten his nursing home roommates wife saying he was going to “blow her head off with a gun” which has the repercussion of being sent for a psych eval.  Though he still couldn’t figure out why he was sent to a psych unit as he “didn’t even have a gun” – you see my quandary)
  • Living arrangements that would make being in jail look like a vacation (I told my Grandpa he couldn’t walk around the block without someone with him as he would get tired and there was nowhere to sit)
  • Over utilizing the word “safe” – tried to get creative, however; the word really fit the situation.
  • Wanting to “get rid of” my Grandpa (he was moving from our house to a retirement community WHERE I WORKED!  He was a very outgoing guy and living with us left him home alone a lot causing extreme isolation)
  • “Doing this” to a family member who was not safe to live alone and needed someone with her 24/7.
  • “Taking over” coordinating medical/health needs (the irony of helping caregivers for OVER 20 years and yet being perceived as eternally 12 in my own family)
  • Being told by my Grandpa he was going to move out because “this is no way to live” (we were out of butter)

The list could go on and on (and on).

As a caregiver, I know that I am doing the best I can in a trying situation, however; I have to admit it’s not easy being the fall guy.

Points to ponder for other caregivers playing the role as the “heavy”

  • Don’t take it personally – though challenging not to, try to see it from their perspective, though making tough decisions for others sometimes becomes necessary, they are fighting for whatever independence they can hold onto (Read “If I Walked in Her Shoes” for more on this perspective)
  • Ask friends to be a sounding board for venting your frustrations at taking the tough guy stance. Other family members may be too close to the situation; friends are knowledgeable about the situation but removed enough to not be emotionally invested either way.
  • Stay calm and focused on facts not emotion.  Changes can often be met with frustration and anger which is often directed towards you.  Keep in mind that it’s not about you!

Most importantly take time to take care of yourself keep-calm-and-take-care-of-yourself-3and remind yourself daily that you are doing the best you can.

For more support/resources visit:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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2 Responses to The Fall Guy

  1. LifeFone says:

    Thanks for all the great work you do as a caregiver to your grandfather and those in your retirement community! It can be very challenging but studies show we are headed toward a caregiver shortage so keep up the good work!


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