Caregivers often carry around undeserved guilt,
believing that they aren’t doing enough for
their loved ones. This guilt can make the caregiving
role even more stressful than it already is. One
might ask why a caregiver feels guilty when they’re
doing such a courageous job. Here are some reasons:
Resentment for personal time lost – It’s normal
to feel like you’re missing something when so much
of your time is taken up taking care of someone
else. The caregiver thinks that they shouldn’t feel
Unresolved issues – Many times, there are issues
stemming from childhood or arguments in the past
that hinder the caregiving process. Many caregivers
feel guilty about this.
Comparing yourself to others – Some caregivers
will look at another caregiver and think that they
could never accomplish what that other person did.
Knowing placement is inevitable – There can
be tremendous guilt involved when a caregiver has to
place their loved one in assisted living or a
Dealing with your own issues
– You may be dealing with personal or health
problems yourself, which takes away from your
Ways to Cope
with Caregiver Guilt
Acknowledge the guilt –
It’s normal to feel guilt from time to time. Once
it’s recognized, we are better able to deal with it.
Look at the bigger picture – Although you may
be stressed with a particular situation now, it will
not last forever. Look at the sacrifices you make
for your loved one and realize that you are doing a
Accept that you’re human and have
flaws – All of us make mistakes from time to time.
Some of us may be good at the physical aspects of
caregiving, while others may be better able to
handle the emotional toll. Recognize your strengths
and don’t focus on the negative.
Make time for yourself –
This is easier said than done,
but it’s a must! Even if it’s just an hour or
two a week, go out and have coffee with a friend,
catch a movie, attend a caregiver support group, or
just curl up and read a book. Taking time out helps
you put your situation in better perspective.
Know that you are making the best decision for you
and your loved one at that time – This can be hard
to accept, especially if you’ve made a promise to a
loved on in the past that you can no longer keep. A
change in a situation may force you to break that
promise, but realize that the promise was made under
different circumstances. You are making the best
decision with new circumstances.
unresolved issues or accept them for what they are –
Many times, we may be taking care of someone who we
resent, for many reasons. You can choose to try and
resolve those feelings from the past to allow you to
care for that person fairly. You can also choose to
allow someone else to care for that person because
you know you cannot rightfully do so. Either way,
this is something you need to consider if your past
with that person is an issue for you. Talk to a
professional if necessary to make the best decision
for both you and your loved one.
for support from family and friends; seek caregiver
support groups or professional help to work through
your feelings of guilt. Know that you are not alone
in your caregiving journey and the help is
available. Most of all, remember that you are doing
the best that you can!
Malika Brown is
a geriatric social worker with The Center for
Positive Aging at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg,
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