Caring for an aging in place elderly loved one can be an emotional rollercoaster ride that’s filled with highs and lows. One of the most common negative emotions that caregivers experience is guilt, and for reasons like resentment and frustration. But when you’re not able to manage caregiver guilt, it can cloud your judgement, cause additional stress and anxiety, and eventually lead to burnout. To help ensure that doesn’t happen, learning how to avoid caregiver guilt is possible when taking these steps.
Why Do Caregivers Feel Guilty?
These are several reasons why a caregiver may feel guilty, such as:
- Anger or resentment towards the care recipient
- Not spending enough time with their loved one
- Frustration because their condition keeps getting worse
- Not having enough time and energy for their other relationships
- Doing activities without their loved one that they used to do together
- Feeling like their life would be better if their loved one just passed away
Being a more effective caregiver means managing negative emotions that can interfere with your ability to provide the nurturing that your loved one deserves, including guilt.
How to Keep Caregiver Guilt at Bay
As a caregiver, here are some ways to ensure that your attitude always stays positive so that you can help your senior enjoy a higher quality of life:
Set Realistic Goals
Sometimes it’s O.K. to lower your expectations because your initial goals are simply not attainable. For example, if your loved one has dementia you can’t expect them to follow all your instructions, like taking their medications on schedule. However, you may be able to get them to remember some good times that you shared together by showing them old photos. If they have a serious health condition, celebrate small victories like getting them out of the house for the day.
Confront the Real Problem
Guilt can oftentimes sneak up on you and be hard to recognize. Feeling guilty is typically an emotional smokescreen for what’s really going on inside. For example, you may be frustrated because your mother can’t drive anymore, and you resent the fact that you have-to transport her around. Admitting your guilt allows you to confront the underlying problem and then put it in your “rear-view mirror”, so to speak. Instead of feeling guilty that you resent having to take mom to her appointments, focus on the fact that you get to spend more bonding time with her.
Find a Healthy Balance
One of the major reasons why caregivers experience guilt is because they feel like they’re neglecting other important relationships, like those with their spouse and children. It’s so important to find a healthy balance between your personal life, job and caregiving duties. That way you won’t miss out on special events in your family’s lives, including those with elderly loved ones. And, you also need to make sure that you’re sleeping enough, exercising regularly, and spending some “me time” to pamper yourself periodically.
Join a Support Group
Joining a caregiver support group will allow you to share your feelings and experiences with others who understand what you’re going through. Group members can help provide you with a fresh perspective while empathizing with your frustrations. Sharing with others will allow you to release pent-up emotions like guilt so you don’t have to carry it around.
Take a Break
Caregiving can be overwhelming even for the most level-headed person. At some point, all caregivers need to take a break and recharge. When you’ve made the decision to step back for a while, here are some ways to find a temporary replacement:
- Sibling or other family member
- Trusted neighbor or close friend
- Volunteers that work with the elderly
- Respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency
Family Trusted In-Home Respite Care for Seniors
Caring for an aging in place loved one is very rewarding, but it can also be emotionally draining. When you need a break, contact LightSpring Home Care. As a fully licensed and insured agency, our well-trained respite caregivers can step in and provide your senior with the compassionate care that’s needed so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While in the home, our carefully screened aides can perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship.
And, all our family trusted services can be individually combined into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about LightSpring Home Care and our services for home health in Philadelphia or a nearby community, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for a senior you love, please call or visit us online today!