Caregiver Guilt – When You Can No Longer Do It Alone
Caring for an elderly loved one who has become physically or cognitively impaired can be rewarding, but tough. In most cases, it can be a 24/7 task and might take a toll on the caregiver emotionally, mentally and physically. Many caregivers neglect their own well being when caring for an elder loved one, rarely taking time for themselves. One of the biggest reasons for this is caregiver guilt.
Those who most often end up in the role of caregiver are the grown children of the elderly senior. They typically have jobs, spouses and children of their own but still believe they can do it all, taking care of everything and everybody. At some point it becomes overwhelming, and when the caregiver finally admits they need help, that’s when the guilt sets in.
Caregiver guilt is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. It is difficult for anyone to admit they need help, that they can’t do it on their own. But letting guilt keep someone from taking proper care of themselves, can not only affect their overall well-being but the quality of care they provide as well. It is important to manage caregiver guilt for everyone’s sake.
Acknowledge Caregiver Guilt
The first step to managing the guilt is to acknowledge it. Giving it a name and saying it out loud will allow you to deal with it.
Uncover the Source
Once acknowledged, figure out why you feel guilty. Are you not living up to the expectations you set for yourself? Do you think the only way to provide your loved one with the best care is to be completely selfless? Cut yourself some slack and believe that you are doing your very best.
Identify Any Resentment
This can often be a strong source of caregiver guilt. There’s no way around it. Taking care of an elderly loved one will greatly impact your daily life. A little resentment is only natural. Again, acknowledging this the only way to deal with and will mostly likely give you a new perspective. Pat yourself on the back for having what it takes to care for your loved one.
Show Some Compassion
Caregivers are just like everyone else; they have good days and bad days. Allow yourself to have the feelings that come with a bad day and understand that these feeling don’t control your actions. Show yourself a little of the compassion you show for everyone else and the guilt will ease up a bit.
Take Care of Yourself
This can often be one of the hardest things for a caregiver to do. Force yourself to find someone to step in and give yourself a couple of hours here and there to focus on you. Run errands, read a book, go for a walk or get a massage.
Whatever you need to recharge and give yourself a fresh perspective on the day and the task of caregiving, do it. You won’t be able to provide the quality of care your loved one that you want to if you don’t care for yourself too.
Ask for Help
It’s okay to ask for help and important for a caregiver to have some time for themselves. Enlist the help of family and friends. Even if they can’t stay with your loved one, they can take care of other tasks such as housekeeping or grocery shopping to light your load.
Consider hiring a certified aide or caregiver for a few hours a couple of days a week. If your loved one can still relatively easily get out and about, consider taking them to adult day care a couple of days a week.
Reevaluate the image you had of yourself when you began the task of caregiving. It’s okay that you’re not Superman or Mother Teresa. Ask for help when you need it. Be kind to yourself and realistic about your expectations. If you keep the caregiver guilt in check, you will be able to give your loved one your very best.
Signature Senior Services is a full service eldercare company with a focus on Senior Medical Adult Day Care and Assisted Living facilities. Our goal is to offer an alternative to senior care by offering a progressive, fun, clean, safe, affordable environment for loved ones. Our staff is comprised of compassionate seasoned veterans with over 20 years of experience in the senior services industry. Please contact us for more information on how we can assist you and your loved one.