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Caregiver Guilt and Finding Balance
By Sheryl Leary

(Page 2 of 2)

Not all your activities or the time invested in each will add up equally. In many circumstances, there are not enough hours in the day to devote to yourself as you devote to others. However, the goal is to try and create a day that is shared with the one you love, not dominated by your caregiving. You will become more experienced at this as you practice. No caregiver can create a perfectly balanced spread sheet the first time out. The goal should be to continue trying so that you can achieve more balance in meeting the needs of yourself and your loved one.
By writing down the things you do for your loved one, perhaps you will feel less guilty. Your early journals may be very one-sided. Once you start to even things out, you may realize that you can be a better caregiver when there are some things you can list on your side. Learn from this, being a good caregiver is not always equal to the amount of care provided. If you are constantly frazzled and stressed, the care you provide may reflect your and anxiety and weariness. This may not be the kind of caregiver you set out to be. If you simply cannot balance the two sides to your journal, it is definitely time to call in help. Respite care can be what you need it to be, whether through a professional organization or through family and friends. You can contact your local Area Agency on Aging to learn more about the Family Caregiver Support Program. Professionals within this program can go over your caregiving experience with you and find sources of support you may not have known existed.

What do you do when your loved one’s demands are so great, you have nothing to write on your side of the page? Sometimes our loved ones have care needs that are so extensive the demand on the caregiver is extreme. Caregivers need to recognize that if the balance sheet does not match up over time, the risk is far greater to both of you. Acting preventively to keep from burning out is a necessity. Caregivers who burn out are sometimes too physically and or mentally exhausted to provide any care.

It is hard to call in professionals when all your mother wants is you. It is hard to say “no” to someone you have loved all your life. If this is your circumstance, putting things into perspective becomes necessary. Let’s look at the case of providing care for your parents. If your mother or father never said “no” to you all your life, where would you be? Were you allowed to go to school? Essentially, your care was placed into the hands of others. At times you may not have been happy about this but for the most part you were probably safe and had your needs met. Did you ever visit with friends or extended family? These times were important in shaping your life. The same analogies can be applied to care for those in need. If it is always provided by one person, and in one way, it can rob both individuals from opportunities needed to sustain personal growth.

Start your balance sheet today. The search for balance is hard but needs to continue. When we achieve a healthy balance, the guilt will not feel as prevalent. The answer is never obvious. As long as our search continues and we keep our minds open to new ways to explore it, balance is never that far away.

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