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Caregiver Guilt: How to Manage it

March 22, 2021

Caregiver Guilt: How to Manage It:

When caring for an elderly loved one, it’s important to make sure to take care of yourself as well. After all, any issue affecting you will likely affect the care your loved one receives. For example, stress can lead to caregiver burnout; which can negatively impact your relationship with your elderly loved one as well as the quality of care you provide for them. Another issue many caregivers deal with, and that can have wide-ranging consequences, is caregiver guilt.

What is Caregiver Guilt When Caring for an Elderly Relative at Home

Caregiver guilt is something many people who take care of an elderly relative deal with in some form. There are several reasons why you may experience caregiver guilt.

For example, you may feel:

  • You aren’t doing enough to help your elderly relative.
  • The care you’re providing isn’t good enough
  • You didn’t do enough to prevent whatever illnesses or chronic conditions they have.

The guilt you experience may be more specific to the care you provide, such as:

  • Feeling guilty that you forgot your elderly relative’s medical appointment.
  • You cooked a meal for your elderly relative that they didn’t like.
  • You were short with your elderly relative, or angry with them while you were with them.

These feelings of guilt happen to many caregivers, and it’s important to deal with them before they become a larger problem.

The Problem With Caregiver Guilt

Feeling guilty is a natural part of caring for an elderly relative living at home, but if left untreated, it can fester and have negative consequences. Guilt can turn to anger and resentment, against your elderly relatives, against others who place demands on you like a job or a spouse, or against siblings or other family members who can’t or don’t help in providing care to an elderly relative. Generally, these feelings can harm your relationships while decreasing the quality of care you can provide for your relative, which in turn can spark more guilt and cause a cycle of negative consequences. And since studies have shown that caregivers tend to want to manage problems themselves, these cycles can be difficult to break.

Dealing with Caregiver Guilt: An Ounce of Prevention

One of the best ways to deal with caregiver guilt is to prevent it, and experts agree that a good way to do that is to manage expectations. Talk to your elderly relative about what kind of care you can and will give; based on both what they need and what you feel you can provide. You can hire a professional in-home caregiver to fill in the gaps. Include other members of your family like siblings and spouses where possible, so that everybody is on the same page about what kind of at-home care you will provide.

Caregiver Guilt in At-Home Care: How to Deal

Though it may be easier said than done, the best way to deal with caregiver guilt while taking care of an elderly relative is just to let it go. Give yourself permission to feel guilty, and then give yourself the further permission to let go of that guilt. Other things you can do include:

  • Find a caregiver support group. These may exist as part of your local department of aging, or through a church or civic organization. The caregiver experience is a fairly universal one, and hearing about issues that other caregivers experience can help provide a sense of relief from caregiver guilt.
  • Ask for help. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Whether it’s bringing in an at-home care aide to provide some additional support, or just asking a friend or family member to help with care so that you can take a break, asking for help is probably the most effective way to feel better about the care you provide. As a bonus, it will probably be good for your elderly relative as well, as it will help them understand the amount of work that goes into the care you provide.
  • Accept the situation. Your parents are getting older. There’s nothing you or anyone else can do to stop that. As they age, their health may decline and they may need more care. As difficult as it is to do, accepting that this is part of aging is an important step.
  • Take care of your own health. Caregiving for an elderly relative can be difficult emotionally and physically. Don’t underestimate the effect that has on you. Taking time to care for yourself is not taking time away from caring from your elderly relative, it’s helping you give them better care.
  • If caregiving for an elderly relative is taking time away from your job, consider becoming a paid caregiver. In some situations, it may be possible to get paid to take care of your elderly relatives. That can give you more time to focus on their needs without having to juggle concerns with another job.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Can Provide Help For Caregivers and Their Elderly Relatives

Whether it’s training and certification for you to become a paid caregiver; or providing care for your relatives that you don’t already provide. The dedicated professionals at Home Care Powered by AUAF are here to assist you and your loved ones get the care they need. Contact us or call us at 773-274-9262 to find out more and get started.

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