How to Deal with Caregiver Guilt
Caring for an aging parent with memory loss is a demanding experience fraught with worry and frustration. The most common admission we hear from family caregivers time to time is: “I feel so guilty.” Caregiver stress can lead to negative feelings and the guilt is part of that. It's common for family members to feel guilty for:
- things that happened in the past,
- the unusual behavior of their loved one,
- feeling angry and losing their temper,
- resenting the caregiving responsibilities,
- needing help and/or looking into assisted living or nursing homes.
Some of these feelings of guilt are small while others can influence the most important aspects of caregiving. Guilty feelings can interfere with healthy and effective decision making day to day. Recognizing the guilt surrounding the caregiving journey can help you learn to manage those feelings, allowing you to be more objective in your daily interactions with your loved one. Here are some things you can do to help manage caregiver guilt:
- Recognize the feelings for what they are. When the source of guilty feelings is recognized they become manageable.
- Identify how the feelings of guilt are affecting your caregiver's experience.
- Although guilt can affect decision making, don't second guess yourself.
- Don't expect to be perfect. You will feel resentful, angry and lonely at times.
- Pay attention to these feelings and accept them as normal.
- Seek help from professionals and support groups. Spending more time with people who can provide outside support and guidance can be helpful.
Above all remember, you are doing the very best job that you can. Give yourself credit for all that you do.
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