Family caregivers are often burdened with feelings of guilt. They may feel guilt when they have negative thoughts about their duties, such as frustration, anger, or worry. If they crave some time apart or some respite from daily caregiving, these family members deal with guilt over that. It’s important for family caregivers to find ways to alleviate guilt over their totally normal feelings so that they can be happier and healthier in every aspect of their lives.
What is Guilt?
When it comes to family caregivers, it’s helpful to define guilt in their unique context. This means that guilt is a part of the conscience that makes people feel they have fallen short of a near-perfect standard they desire to live up to. Caregiver guilt can make family caregivers feel bad about themselves and fuel physical and mental health issues, especially anxiety, stress, and depression.
Family caregiver guilt can build up due to many different scenarios and situations, from losing patience and getting frustrated to spending time away from an elderly loved one to tend to other aspects of life. While putting another person’s needs ahead of their own is loving and a fine act of service, too many family caregivers feel that means they must devote all their energy and time toward that care. Putting their own needs first triggers lots of guilty feelings.
Alleviating Guilty Feelings in Family Caregivers.
It’s not easy to take care of an aging relative, especially as their needs increase over months and years. The first step that family caregivers must take is to allow themselves to feel those natural feelings of frustration, impatience, and even guilt. They must also put those feelings into perspective and see that meeting their own needs is not “bad” or “selfish.” Family caregivers must understand that taking care of their own mental and physical needs, from socializing to exercising, makes them better caregivers to their elderly relative. This awareness can help diminish the guilt they feel.
Hiring home care providers can go a long way toward alleviating guilt that family caregivers often feel when they want some respite. Instead of feeling guilty that they are “abandoning” their aging loved one to pursue their own needs, they see the benefits of outside companionship. When they know their relative is in good hands, family caregivers feel much less guilt about their situation.
The most helpful benefit for the elderly adult is that they have a caring professional coming on a regular basis to assist with daily tasks like bathing, dressing and housekeeping. The home care provider becomes someone whose company they enjoy. Elderly adults with home care providers receive good conversation, help with activities, service around the house, and transportation to where they want to go.
There’s no doubt that caring for an elderly relative is an act of love and service, but it can stir up a lot of emotions, including guilt. Family caregivers must learn to alleviate guilt so that they will be a better caregiver and a healthier person as they move forward.