Caregiver Guilt Advice,What Would You Do?
Samantha shares her personal story of caring for her mother-in-law with multiple health issues and the challenges and rewards of in-home care and the decision to place her in a nursing home
Our story, is shared by by Samantha in (Oregon)
I am experiencing caregiver guilt.
My mother-in-law and I have always had the kind of relationship where we like each other one day. And drive each other nuts the next. She lived in a small apartment. Her son and I lived in a two bedroom house about fifteen minutes away. We check on her daily since she has so many health issues.
It soon became apparent that she needed to be placed into a nursing home.
The only other option was to have her move in with us. We prepared her room and moved her in. Knowing we would face some tough days ahead. She had a visiting nurse and therapist visit her on a regular basis. As well as, home health aides who helped with her bathing. Even with that level of help, it was still hard. Her health issues include diabetes, a kidney transplant, heart disease, and dementia.
Because of this, she had to take a lot of medication. And had to follow a certain diet. She didn’t like to do either of these things. So it was a daily chore just getting her to cooperate with us. Caring for aging parents wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There were some good days too.
We learned a lot about her childhood years. About her family that was spread out all over the nation. We developed a Person Centered Profile to use in the home and for any hospitalizations. My husband remembered some from his childhood. But when they all scattered to various states, contact wasn’t maintained very often.
This was nice that he got to hear stories. And see his mom in a new light, as we have never seen her as happy as those nights we just spent talking.
There were scary moments, too. I had to remove all the candles and matches from the house when she nearly burned it down. We had to watch the kitchen like hawks. Since she would start cooking, then forget about it and go take a nap. I have heard of caregiver stress. I soon realized reading about it and experiencing it are two different things. We were in a dilemma.
She was getting to the point where we had to watch her one hundred percent of the time. Not only to make sure she didn’t burn the house down, but to make sure she didn’t hurt herself. The final straw came when she tried to take a shower one night and she fell.
We were both sleeping. So didn’t find her until a few hours later… on the floor. She was hospitalized. The social worker told us she really needed to be placed in a nursing home, .where she would have nonstop monitoring. She explained that we shouldn’t blame ourselves. We were dealing with caregiver guilt that was misplaced. It was with heavy hearts that we finally did place her in a nursing home. We chose one that was not far from our house.
We had taken care of her for over three years. At this point, the time had come when placing her in a home became a blessing in some ways; it left a huge hole in our hearts too. We had really grown as a family during those years. When it came down to it though, we had to do what would keep her safe.
How to Use Caregiver Guilt to Your Advantage
Guilt is a wasted emotion. It negates all the good you do.
As a caregiver, it's important to recognize that your feelings of guilt are not only normal, but they can also be used as motivators. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and be sure to practice self-care. If caregiver guilt is getting in the way of finding joy in caring for someone, try talking with a mental health professional or join support groups for caregivers of similar situations.
Overcoming caregiver guilt starts with learning to forgive yourself for mistakes made and accepting that some things are just out of your control. Make time each day for something enjoyable—whether it’s exercising, going on a nature walk, reading a good book, or catching up with friends over video chat. Taking a break can help you come back with renewed vigor and perspective.
Above all, remember that caregiver guilt is a natural feeling and it's not something to be ashamed of. Take time to acknowledge your emotions, and find ways to cope with them in healthy ways.
You are doing an amazing job—give yourself credit for that! When you take care of yourself first, you will have the energy and strength needed to provide excellent care for your loved one. So use caregiver guilt as a reminder to prioritize self-care—you deserve it.
Our Resources section can help you find the information and tools that you need. We have courses, videos, checklists, guidebooks, cheat sheets, how-to guides and more.
You can get started by clicking on the link below. We know that taking care of a loved one is hard work, but with our help you can get the support that you need.
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