Six Ways to Ease Caregiver Guilt

The caregiving journey evokes many feelings: compassion, joy, frustration, anger, grief, and sadness. Guilt is also a significant feeling that often accompanies the emotional side of caregiving.

You are not alone.

Maybe your caregiver guilt stems from feeling resentful because your loved one is taking so much of your time. Or you feel guilty that you don’t do enough. You may even feel guilty about feeling guilty.

Start by accepting that guilt is part of caregiving. But you don’t have to suffer guilt silently or let it take over your life. For your own health and those who lean on you, you need to cope with caregiver guilt.

Here’s how:

1. Recognize guilt.

Guilt is part of who we are and is often partnered with other feelings, such as resentment and even anger. Identifying and acknowledging these negative feelings can help in managing caregiver guilt. Remind yourself how fortunate you are that you have the ability to care for your aging parent or loved one, but remember you’re not a superhero.

2. Get to the root of it.

Consider where your guilt is coming from and whether it is justified. Be honest with yourself and others. Usually, caregiver burnout grows because your own needs are going unmet. Adjust accordingly and take action. Having your own needs is normal, so if you need some time for yourself, figure out a way to make that happen. Giving yourself permission to meet your own needs can help derail feelings of guilt.

3. Go easy on yourself.

Negative emotions and moods drift in and out. Allow yourself to have an off day. Practice relaxation techniques, such as taking a moment to breathe and meditate. Be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others—it’s good for your mental health and quality of life.

4. Take a new perspective.

Time is often a limiting factor in doing all the things we think we “should” do as a family caregiver. Ask yourself this: Did I not do something for my loved one because I’m selfish or because of circumstances out of my control or other essential demands? To fight off caregiver stress, shift your thinking. Find a way to make the most of the time you have in order to make the caregiver experience as good as it can be rather than focusing on the time you can’t devote to your loved one.

5. Build a support system.

Get together with a friend and vent. Seek out caregiver support groups that face similar challenges. When you need professional help, ask for it. Round up your family members, explain the difficult situation, and make a plan to ease your load. Don’t hesitate to call out other family members who could be more involved. Help them find a way to help.

6. Care for the caregiver first.

You may feel guilty thinking about your own needs, or you may believe they are unimportant and selfish compared to the needs of the older adult. Yet, when you practice some self-care, you can give the best care to others. Pay attention to balance in your life because it is critical. Ask someone else to fill in the caregiving role for a short while. Take a break and use the time to regroup and recharge.

McKnight Place: The Support You Need

McKnight Place offers a lively community where families are engaged and care recipients live the life they choose in safety and comfort. While active well-being is the primary focus, the nursing staff is available 24 hours a day, and a certified geriatric medical director is always on call. Thanks to the unparalleled services and beautiful, spacious suites and grounds, families can spend more time enjoying special moments together.

If your loved one is in home care, let us help you with some of your caregiving responsibilities. Learn more about our Short-term Rehabilitation Health Care and respite Care Services here.

Come See For Yourself

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, please call 314-789-8461 (Assisted Living & Memory Care) or 314-789-8206 (Skilled Nursing).

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