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Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ Managing Caregiver Guilt

Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ Managing Caregiver Guilt

Managing Caregiver Guilt

As a family caregiver, you are faced with myriad responsibilities and decisions to make. These decisions often revolve around how to care for your aging loved one. As a family member to your loved one, you may often feel heavily the responsibility of caregiving. As a result, you may put these duties above and beyond everything else.

Over time, you may feel guilty for attending to other life events, like work, other family issues, seeing friends, vacationing, and so on. This may make you feel like you are not a good enough caregiver for your loved one. You may also feel guilty for feeling animosity, anger, or resentment toward your loved one because of the stress you experience as a caregiver. These are all normal feelings, and you should not feel guilty. In this blog, we will go over reasons why these are normal feelings and how you can manage them moving forward.

Consider These Steps

The first step is to acknowledge your feelings of guilt.[1] Recognize them as normal human emotions. Ask yourself about what exactly do you feel guilty. Take time to really explore what it is your feeling so you can know what aspect of your emotions to focus on. You are in a difficult situation, and emotions you feel are valid. It is okay to feel angry and sad. The important thing is to not let it take over your life, causing maladaptive behaviors, or behavior that will not lead you in productive directions. Acknowledge your feelings, and ask yourself: “Why exactly do I feel this way right now?”

The second step to manage guilt is to set realistic expectations for yourself. According to Caregiver.com, guilt often comes from a “mismatch” between your everyday behavior and the behavior you wish to show in an ideal world.[2] That is to say, you believe you are not living up to your expectations. To deal with guilt, you have to remind yourself that caregiving is challenging, time consuming, and it is often not a familiar role to take on.  If you are going to set expectations, make sure you are going easy on yourself. Take into consideration the other things you have going on in your life, like work, family, and friends. Remember that you also have to care for yourself, and that involves taking personal time.

The third step is to be comfortable with unresolved emotions.[3] As a caregiver, you will make difficult choices. Sometimes, doubt can linger in your brain for weeks or months. We encourage you to get comfortable with unresolved emotions. Sometimes, you will never know what would have happened or what should have happened. All you know is what did happen. Focus on being present and on what you are in control of. At the end of the day, that is all you can worry about.

Lastly, take care of yourself. Sometimes, guilt can be coupled with anxiety and depression. To manage anxiety and depression, it is important to take care of your mind and body. Try exercising, eating well, and setting aside time to relax, like meditation or pursuing a favorite hobby.

If you have any questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: https://elizz.com/caregiver-resources/just-for-caregivers/dealing-with-caregiver-guilt
[2] Source: https://caregiver.com/articles/managing_caregiver_guilt/?utm_source=Caregiver+Newsletter&utm_campaign=11cdebdea9-Caregiver_Newsletter_+4302019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8c5d5e6a5e-11cdebdea9-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D&ct=t%28Caregiver_Newsletter_+4302019%29&mc_cid=11cdebdea9&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D
[3] Source: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/living-with-guilt-bjj.html

 

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