Losing Caregiver Guilt and Living at Peace

Author: Hilary Eldridge

If you are feeling a bit guilty when it comes to taking care of your older loved ones, you are not alone. Negative emotions are quite common as you walk the caregiving process, and it’s important to know what to do with those emotions as they come up.

On top of feeling negative emotions, it’s also very common to feel guilty—and the worry that you aren’t doing enough, providing enough options, or generally taking care of every single detail you can. If this describes you as you care for your elderly loved one, just know you are not alone and there are many people and groups dealing with the exact situation you’re feeling. Whether it’s negative emotions or learning to care for an elderly loved one, you are not alone. For many, the demands of caregiving are only deepened by a sense of guilt—and often, we worry that we aren’t doing enough, providing enough, or taking care of enough that requires our attention.

The caregiver’s life circumstances can change depending on how needy the client has gotten. For many, the guilt starts to creep in when we actually tell ourselves things we feel we could’ve changed for the better—even if the events or choices were outside our control. This a dangerous blame game of caring for an elderly loved one may not go as planned, our guilt makes us shoulder the disappointment and self-blame in the way things turned out, even though we know better.

If you’re feeling caregiver guilt, the following statements may sound familiar:

  • We feel guilty we don’t spend enough quality time with just the person and find out what they liked and enjoyed. Those who feel guilty for moving their loved ones into a senior facility or assisted living, or that we’re hurting them and others by keeping them in their own home or moving them into our family’s home.
  • This is not the time to feel guilty, but instead, find those silver linings and help your loved one understand how life will be better surrounded by people who love them!
  • It's easy to get caught up in guilt and completely miss the wonderful bond that can come from families who work together! Resentment only comes when we are not thinking of what’s best for the party besides ourselves!

Caregiver guilt is almost unavoidable. What you have to know is that it’s only our desire to make things better that came to make it tough on us. We want out loved ones to have the best, and even if they don’t respond great at first, they usually will in time. Your presence, showing up with meals and games, will all help them feel like home in their new place, so this doesn’t have to be a stressful time. Remember—they are oftentimes feeding off your energy! Our care and desire to make the best choices for our loved ones means that we can hold ourselves to high standards of behavior—and blame ourselves when the stress of caregiving shows on our careers, family life, or mental health.

But there are steps you can take to mitigate your unwarranted feelings of guilt. Relying on others, taking time for self-care, and focusing on the positive helps you balance your emotions. And a happier, healthier caregiver can provide better care.

Focus on the Positive
Guilt has a way of keeping you focused on the things you haven’t done right, but you can keep negative feelings at bay with mindfulness and self-reflection. Keep in mind, your goal is to keep your loved ones safe and provided for—and no one can truly “do it all”. Take the time to reflect on your accomplishments, to give yourself positive reinforcement, and to reassure yourself that the caregiving role is a challenging one for anyone—and your efforts go a long way to keeping your loved one happy and healthy.

Do For Yourself, Too.
There’s no quicker way to drain your emotional health than denying yourself the habits that keep you happy, healthy, and upbeat. When your schedule is full, it’s tempting to sideline your gym hours, social life, or even just some “me time”. But going for too long without any space for yourself will only leave you angrier, stressed, and unable to stretch yourself further. Put your self-care on your to-do list to keep it a priority, and focus on getting in your personal time—even if that means removing other tasks from the list (takeout is fine for dinner, sometimes!)

Find Support
Believe it or not, there are plenty of people in the same boat as you—or ready to offer an understanding ear. Search online for support groups in your area or ask friends and family if they know a fellow caregiver. Speaking to others lets you share stories, tips, or even just enjoy the company of someone facing the same challenges with positivity and a healthy mindset.

For more tips on how to deal with caregiver guilt, contact us.

Home Helpers of North Atlanta is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour care, and live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care, and stroke recovery home care services in Alpharetta, Buford, Cumming, Duluth, Johns Creek, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Marietta, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Snellville, Stone Mountain, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, and Woodstock, Georgia.

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