Being a caregiver can be stressful — and that can be an understatement. Along with the strain on time and energy, caregivers can feel guilty about many things, one of which is feeling guilty about feeling guilty. Most hard and difficult feelings toward the one you are caring for can be mitigated by love and the sense of duty you have toward that needy person. However, your concern for that person — not to mention family members who may need to share their time with you — may leave you feeling like you are doing something wrong. You may even feel guilty about things that haven’t happened yet, and may never happen. Things can get so out-of-hand that one might serve out of guilt instead of love if negative feelings take over. Here’s a burst of good news: Feelings of guilt are normal!
The following are some things we may feel guilty about.
- Our sympathy and empathy may lead us to feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough to help the person we’re caring for, whether it’s not devoting enough time or just not doing the best job we can.
- We feel guilty when we resent the time we are spending as caregivers because it is robbing us of time spent with family, friends, and activities we’d rather engage in.
- We may feel guilty that we’re not doing as much for the person we’re caring for as other caregivers are doing.
- Tragically, we may feel guilt and regret over things we’ve done or said in the past that we can’t fix or take back.
- We may feel guilty that we lose our temper from time to time or otherwise think we’ve mistreated our loved one.
- You may think the cause or progression of the disease is your fault. Focus on now, not then. We all like to blame someone, but what’s the point?
If any of the above guilt seeds have taken root in your heart, welcome to the human race! This is in no way meant to minimize what you feel or may have actually done, but should help you stop feeling guilty about feeling guilty.
The first step in assuaging guilt is to acknowledge it. Examine your feelings in the reality of the entire situation. Here are some pointers.
- Are you doing your best to be a good caregiver? If not, how can you improve?
- Do you make sacrifices for the person you’re caring for? Sacrifice is the highest form of love.
- Mentally reverse roles for a moment. Would you expect people to do more for you than you’re doing for your loved one?
- What alternatives are there? How would you feel if you started slacking off?
- Realize you only have a limited amount of time in a day — and with your loved ones, so make the most of it with each of them.
- Seriously (and unguiltily!) consider respite care, where someone takes over the duties for a time so you can take care of yourself for a bit. Build a support system of family, friends, and professionals to lean on for physical, spiritual, mental, financial, and other help, even if it means mending fences.
- Think ahead: How will you feel when Mom or Dad or whomever you are caring for passes away? Try not to do anything you would feel guilty about.
Nursing guilt does not make it better, only worse. Concentrate on the right-now needs of your loved one and let that love take over!
The mission of Bristol House Memory Care is to provide excellent care to residents and offer peace-of-mind to family members. Our vision is to be the memory care community of choice for families affected with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In the spirit of open communication, we work together with families to create a culture at Bristol House Memory Care based on respect and dignity for all individuals. Our expertise in advanced care practices and commitment to ongoing training ensures that we will provide unsurpassed quality of care.