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Caregiver Guilt in Senior Care:
How to Manage It

Have you experienced caregiver guilt in senior care? There’s nothing to worry about if you have. Caregiving for your senior parents can offer you a myriad of emotions. One day, you may feel a great deal of fulfillment and connection. The next day, it can be a conflicting feeling of affection and displeasure because of your desire to do more and do better. Thus, you may feel a deep sense of guilt or anger.


Where Does Caregiver Guilt in Senior Care Come From?

One of the best ways to handle caregiver guilt is to acknowledge the feeling. Assess where that feeling
of guilt comes from.

1. Feelings of Anger and Resentment

A caregiver may feel anger and resentment for being trapped or unappreciated for all the efforts. Subsequently, this may cause you to lose temper and say things you will regret later on.

2. Anxiety and Fear

Sometimes caregiver guilt in senior care happens as a result of fear—fear of making a mistake or of something happening beyond control.

3. Grief

Grief is not only about the emotion you feel when you lose someone to death. For instance, you also deal with this feeling when a sick loved one no longer seems to be the person you know so well. It is somewhat a loss for a family member since the relationship you once had is now gone.

4. Depression

Caring for a sick loved one means having to deal with daily changes. This can cause depression.


Managing Caregiver Guilt

1. Recognize the feeling. 

It is important that you are honest with yourself. Recognize and name the feeling. Guilt is normal and it usually comes with caregiving. With caregiver guilt in senior care comes a host of other challenging emotions: anxiety, resentment, anger, sadness, and depression. Recognize and name them as well.

2. Go easy on yourself. 

Know that even with your best intentions and your best efforts, the condition of the sick and the elderly that you care for will not always be at their best. You cannot possibly do everything. Watch them every second of every day and cover all possibilities. What happens to them and how they turn out is not completely your fault. Be realistic; know that you have done your best under the circumstances.

3. Decompress. 

Have time for yourself. Truthfully, caregiving can be very stressful, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Solicit the help of family members to look after your ward while you take some time off for yourself. Go for a staycation to relax and have peace of mind. Realize that it is good to ask for help when you need to.

4. Care for the caregiver.

Know that the caregiver needs some caring as well. In fact, you cannot give what you do not have.  Connect with other family members and friends, go out every so often to enjoy the company of others. Additionally, join some social and support groups or continue to pursue some hobbies and personal interests. You are only as good as a caregiver as you are happy about yourself.

5. Find a healthy balance. 

Balance is the key. Find adequate time for yourself to maintain one’s overall health and well-being. Recognize that the experience of caregiving, whether personal or professional, can be rewarding and stressful at the same time. Continue to clarify motivation and find meaning in caring for the patient/client. Likewise, be realistic. Guilt can come at any time but it can be managed.

The best way to handle caregiver guilt in senior care is to understand that it is really impossible to do it all. Oftentimes, caregivers think that their priority is the sick person. However, caregivers must also care about themselves to make sure they can provide the best care. If they are not healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, it would be hard for them to take care of another person.

Some family members often choose to hire a foreign caregiver so they avoid the feeling of caregiver guilt in senior care. Yes, caring for a loved one with a disability or illness can take you on a roller coaster of emotions.

Learning how to handle caregiver guilt is essential to help one cope with the burden of taking care of a loved one.

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