6 Tips for Coping with Caregiver Guilt
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.