Caregiving often disrupts the harmony of a family, especially when the “patient” could be considered an emotionally “toxic” elder. This means that they can be verbally abusive to you, demanding and perhaps even needy. If they have always been this way for as long as you can remember, it is time you learn to deal with it better. If it is something more recent, make sure there isn’t a medical or emotional issue attached to it.

Caregivers who feel drained and/or angry while dealing with complaints, demands and accusations need to realize there is actually such a thing as a difficult parent. Learning to set boundaries is an important step for the caregiver. Most of us as caregivers are so loving and giving that we just do not know how to say point blank, “NO”. However, if you don’t learn how to take responsibility in this manner, you might want to seek professional help all you will lose it.

Establish rules and let your parent know you are not available 100% of the time.

Make sure you don’t isolate yourself while devoted to the caregiving process.

While your parent may become confused, depressed, extremely ill and/or in pain the caregiver may also experience a personality change which needs to be dealt with upon the inception.

Copyrighted Gail R. Mitchell 12/99


  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.