6 Tips for Coping with Caregiver Guilt

Sep 26, 2016

6 Tips for Coping with Caregiver Guilt

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The transition from a loved one to a caregiver can be difficult for both the caregiver and the senior. Seniors often rely on their own independence and dignity, and caregivers will often begin to feel guilty about the continuous care of their elder. Many will beat themselves up, asking themselves, am I doing enough? Should I think about a nursing home? Caregiver guilt is a very real thing, so it’s important to learn how to identify caregiver guilt, and how to manage it. It’s tough balancing the role of loved one and caregiver, but it’s important to remember that there are a variety of ways to live your life while also taking care of your senior.

6 Tips for Coping with Caregiver Guilt

1. Acknowledging Caregiver Guilt 

It’s important to identify the signs that being a caregiver is taking its toll. Recognize that guilt and feelings of inadequacy are normal. Caregiving is a big role to take on, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. However, if you do find guilt creeping into your mind even when you’re relaxing, it might be time to reevaluate the pressure you’re putting yourself under as your loved one’s caregiver.

2. Redefine Caring

Caring for a loved one doesn’t always mean waiting on them hand and foot. You might even realize that you’ve been helping them too much and are actually taking away their sense of independence.  Even if you’re away, checking in on them via phone, or having a family member check up on them means that you care. It might even be in your best interest to hire a senior caregiver to help around the house when you’re not there.

3. Take a Rest           

If you’re too exhausted to take care of yourself, how are you ever going to take care of your senior? We all need a little rest and relaxation every once in awhile, and it’s important to take some time to recharge. Creating a strong support group of family members and trained professionals can ease the burden of caregiving and limit the physical and mental toll it can have. Talking to someone about the stresses of caregiving can also lighten the mental load when it comes to taking care of a loved one.

4. It’s Not a Chore, It’s Love

One of the biggest things to remember as a caregiver is that you’re not just performing a duty; you’re taking care of the well-being of a loved one. Taking care of a loved one should be a positive experience. It should be a way for you and your senior to create an even stronger bond that will last a very long time. You might not have had the best relationship with your loved one growing up, but there’s no better time to reconcile than now. It’s important to set aside your differences to form a strong relationship with your senior. Although they might not always tell you, they appreciate your hard work.

5. Turn Caregiver Guilt into Something Constructive

Finding something to occupy your time when you’re not caregiving can have a huge impact on helping to prevent caregiver burnout and caregiver guilt. You should invest in a hobby that allows you to escape the stresses of being a caregiver. One of the key ways to make sure you have free time is to prepare for it. If you plan on taking a weekend vacation, make sure you prepare a few weeks in advance so you know who will be taking care of your loved one, and how they can reach you in the case of an emergency. While many feel guilty about leaving their senior, it’s important to remember that your own physical and mental take precedent. You deserve time to sit back and relax.

6. Use Programs to Help

Often a local church group or other local organization will be able to help with yard work and housework. Meal-on-Wheels can deliver daily meals to your senior so you have one less thing to worry about. If you need more permanent care for your senior, look into senior living options and find the best solution and care for your loved one.

1 Comment View Comment
Margaret Colebeck
12/14/2016 3:35 PM
This is really interesting! Thanks for sharing!
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Frequently Asked Questions

My sister has been the primary caregiver for our father for the past year and has recently become apathetic. What can I do?

Apathy in one common sign of compassion fatigue and is common among those who work in the caregiving industry. While it is different than burnout, many of the signs and symptoms are similar. If you are able, try to alleviate some of your sister’s responsibilities by filling in and allowing her to practice some self-care as well. Also, do not be afraid to point her in the direction of a caregiver support group. There are many great resources available to help with compassion fatigue.

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My father has lived in the same house for over 50 years, so he's reluctant to leave. How do I talk to him about moving to a senior care community?

When people grow attached to a familiar setting, moving to a senior care community can be a difficult subject, especially when caregiving is involved. To avoid excessive stress for you and your loved one, there are ways to bring up "the move" to elderly parents. Remember to remain honest and address any concerns your father may have. Prepare yourself for resistance. 

Have you checked out our Is It Time to Seek Senior Care Checklist? This resources will help you decide if it really is the right time for your senior to move out. This may be something that you want to bring to a meeting with your senior to show them some reasons why it may not be safe for them to live independently anymore.

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