Family and friends laud you for being so unselfish. They lavish you with praise for all of the ways you care for your loved one and applaud the sacrifices you make each day as a caregiver. From the outside, it’s a rosy picture.
But on the inside, you may be experiencing a real phenomenon called “Caregiver Guilt.” Many caregivers experience it every day and suffer with it silently. It can cause anxiety, stress and depression, which studies have shown that up to 20% of caregivers experience.
What Causes Caregiver Guilt?
There are several causes of caregiver guilt. You may be experiencing it due to:
- Feeling guilty about resenting your loss of personal time
- Guilt over past tensions in the relationship with your loved one
- Comparing yourself to other caregivers and feeling guilty you’re not better at it
- Feeling guilty for focusing on personal issues in your life
- Guilt over moving a loved one to a senior living facility
Guilt is a feeling we all have from time-to-time; there’s not one of us that doesn’t have some regrets.
7 Tips For Managing Your Caregiver Guilt
Here are some helpful tips to assist you in managing any guilt you’re experiencing.
1. Acknowledge the Feeling of Guilt
Emotions that are kept under wraps will ultimately boil to the top and overflow. The last thing you want to do is feel guilty about feeling guilty. Freely admit that you are feeling guilty. Write it down several times and look at it on paper. It is a great way to get your feelings out and relieve you of the pressure you’re putting on yourself for having a legitimate feeling.
2. Go Easy On Yourself
Admit it: you’re human. And you’re not perfect. And that’s perfectly okay. Nobody expects you to be perfect, so why should you demand that from yourself? You give grace to others in your life for their misgivings; why not do the same for yourself?
3. Look For the Cause
We can deal with our feelings much more effectively if we can get to the root cause of those feelings. If you’re not sure, take a look at the list above of causes of caregiver guilt and see if you can identify what is causing it. If you know why you’re feeling guilty, there’s a much better chance you can resolve your guilt.
4. Take Action
Using the list above, let’s say the cause of your guilt is the feeling of resentment you have over losing your personal time to pursue your interests. Since you’ve identified it, enlist a friend, family member, or another caregiver to give you some additional time off to take a break and do some of your favorite activities. This will help you relax and smell the roses, which is something everyone needs occasionally.
5. Modify Your Behavior As Needed
Take some time and go through your day to evaluate how you’re spending your time as a caregiver. If you’re feeling guilty over spending too much time on personal phone calls during the day, make a concerted effort to put your phone away and invest that time in a talk or game with your loved one. It will alleviate your guilt, and you’ll feel more fulfilled.
6. Ask For Help
Don’t be ashamed to ask family or friends for help. If you need to talk about your feelings of guilt, maybe there is someone you know that is a good listener and who’s opinion and counsel you value. Have a conversation with them about your feelings. It may help you to see things in a different light. There are also caregiver support groups in many areas. Check and see if there’s one near you.
7. Look Forward, Not Back
The past is gone; there is nothing that can be done about it. And the past is usually where our guilt originates. It’s much healthier to look to the future and the possibilities it holds for you. It gives you a chance to be a better you, and if need be – for you to atone for the past. This can be very liberating and helpful with leaving your guilt behind.
We’re Here to Lend a Helping Hand
Help At Home has been providing personalized in-home care for over 20 years. If you’re dealing with caregiver guilt, we can help. When we talk together, you’ll receive personal attention on your very first call. Contact us today. We look forward to helping you and the special person in your life.