Overcoming Caregiver Guilt

Caregiving is the most guilt producing role we will ever take on in our lives. How we respond to the guilt will affect the actions we take or the decisions we make. Learn how to overcome feelings of guilt

Overcoming Caregiver Guilt
Caregiver Guilt

Dealing with caregiver guilt has become an everyday occurrence for many aging baby boomers. They find themselves caring for elderly parents and their own family. As the “sandwich generation” many find themselves dealing with caregiver guilt and dealing with stress.

Care giving is the most guilt producing role we will ever take on in our lives. Many feel guilty about feeling angry, frustrated and unhappy with their role as a care giver. It is hard to be torn between two worlds; trying to meet the needs of aging parents and meeting the needs of your own family. Then there are your own needs, somewhere in all this caring, you loose yourself.

There are two sides to guilt feelings. The good side is that it can make you act and go beyond what is expected to meet the needs of another. The bad side of guilt feelings is it can cloud your judgment or even immobilize you. How we respond to the guilt will affect the actions we take or the decisions we make.

Caregiver Guilt leads to Unnecessary Stress

Feeling of  caregiver guilt, anger, sadness and frustration leads to unnecessary stress. The body’s response to these feelings eventually has long term effects on your health. Caregivers often feel guilty about making a promise to a loved one that they no longer want to honor. There is the guilt that you should be with your elderly parents because they are alone, when you are enjoying a family activity. Some care givers are resentful that their aging family member is sick. Caregivers torment themselves with thoughts that they could have done better or should have known something or done something that would have made a difference. Is it any wonder then that we hear the term caregiver stress?

It is important to understand that these are all normal feelings and you are not alone. There are steps that you can take to over come caregiver stress and begin dealing with guilt. Feelings of guilt are our own perceived failures. These feelings negate all the good we do for others.

There are some individuals that tend to feel guilty about things often. It is important to learn to manage your feelings of guilt and overcome the stress it causes.

Morning jog in the countryside
Stress Management Techniques 

The first step to dealing with guilt involves being able to identify all the negative feelings you are experiencing. Put them out on the table. Acknowledge the elephant in the room.

If you are angry with a sibling, or of stolen moments of time or unwanted expectations placed on you by others in the family, identify all those negative feelings. Put them into words and say them to yourself. When you understand and acknowledge these feelings, it gives you an opportunity to look at things differently.

It is also important to acknowledge that you are doing the best you can do in the situation.

Now that you have identified your feelings, take time to explore why you may feel this way. Are you ignoring your own needs? Do you put your care giving duties above all else? Have you become resentful and angry because you are tired and want to have a life of your own?

Many care givers find that they feel guilty if they do something for themselves. Over time this guilt turns into anger and resentment.

Overcome Feelings of Guilt

To overcome feelings of guilt, it is then necessary to address the choices you make as a caregiver. Do you choose to give up time with family and friends to provide care? Do you take all your weekends and any free time to attend to your care giving duties?

It is important that you take care of yourself because caregivers need to be fit . If you need alone time, take it. If you need to visit with friends and have a good time, allow yourself that pleasure. Meeting your own needs will make you a much better and happier person.

Learn to be “gentle” with yourself. Give yourself permission to feel good as well as bad. Recognize that your feelings do not have to guide your actions. You can make healthy choices and take the actions necessary to take care of you. In the long run, you will be a better and healthier care giver.

Learn to ask for help. Explore options available so that you can have the time you need for yourself.

Accept the fact that you are human and cannot do it all. Taking care of yourself will allow you to be the care giver you want to be. Guilt will always be a part of the care giving process. Your response to those feelings will affect your health. Take action and take care of yourself to overcome caregiver guilt and dealing with stress.

Caregiving is the most guilt producing role we will ever take one.  Family caregivers are often consumed with guilt for not doing enough, not giving enough time, not being able to do more financially and emotionally, or even for feeling resentful.

Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me! Stay with me!” 
Samuel Beckett
Caregiver Stress and Burden Due to Caregiver Guilt

Living with guilt can be very stressful and can interfere with our ability to provide the care that our loved one needs. Here are some tips for managing caregiver guilt:

Acknowledge your feelings: It's normal to feel guilt, but it is important to recognize that feeling guilty will not help you provide better care and can actually interfere with the quality of caregiving.

Practice self-care: Family caregivers often neglect their own needs while caring for others. Taking time out for yourself will help reduce the guilt and stress you feel.

Talk with others: Family caregivers often feel isolated, so it's important to seek out a support system of friends and family who can provide an understanding ear and helpful advice on how to manage caregiver stress and guilt.

Seek professional help: If your feelings of guilt become too overwhelming, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support.

Remember, you are not alone in your journey as a family caregiver. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to make sure that you can continue providing great care for your loved one. With the right tools and support, you can find the balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself.

Have a story about your caregiving journey? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story

Key Takeaways:

- Family caregivers often experience guilt due to their caregiving role

- Acknowledge your feelings of guilt and practice self-care in order to manage it

- Seek out a support system of friends and family, and consider seeking professional help if your guilt becomes too overwhelming

- Balance caring for your loved one with taking care of yourself to ensure quality caregiving.

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