Six Ways to Ease Caregiver Guilt
Caregiving evokes many emotions: compassion, joy, frustration, anger, grief and sadness. Guilt is also a significant feeling that often accompanies caregiving.
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 manage this caregiver guilt.
1. Recognize guilt. Guilt is part of who we are and is often partnered with other feelings such as resentment and even anger. Identify and acknowledge these feelings so you can move forward. Remind yourself how fortunate you are that you have the ability to care for your loved one, but remember you’re not a super hero.
2. Get to the root of it. Consider where your guilt is coming from and if the guilt is justified. Be honest with yourself and others. Usually, guilt 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. Emotions and moods drift in and out. Allow yourself to have an off day. Take a moment to breathe and be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others.
4. Take a new perspective. Time is often a limiting factor in doing all the things we think we “should” do as a 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 guilt, shift your thinking. Find a way to make the most of the time you have or make the 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 other caregivers who face similar challenges. And when you need help, ask for it. Round up your family members, explain the 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 to think about your own needs or you believe they are unimportant and selfish compared to the needs of your loved one. Yet when you take care of yourself, you can give more to others as a caregiver. Balance in your life is critical. Ask someone else to fill in with caregiving for a short while. Take time to regroup and recharge to find peace and be a stronger person overall.
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McKnight Place offers a lively community where families are engaged and residents live the life they choose in safety and comfort. While active wellness is the primary focus, 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.
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