Feeling guilty while caring for your loved one is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a constant feeling for most caregivers today.
Guilt for not doing enough for your parent. Guilt for missing a child’s game while you cared for your parent. Guilt for the way your house looks. Guilt for not having patience. Guilt for not liking being a caregiver sandwiched between two generations.
What you, as a caregiver, must remember is this is a situation over which you have limited control and shouldn't feel guilty about, says Alexis Abramson, a gerontologist and author of The Caregiver's Survival Handbook. "However, you are in control of how you react to it," she says. And that is empowering.
First, take a deep breath and relax. Realize that a solution does exist.
Take time to find the right solution that works for you and your loved one. That’s what your loved one and family deserves; that’s what you truly deserve.
Get rid of caregiver guilt by asking yourself these three questions:
- Are you setting your own standards too high?
Lower your standards and expectations of what you can get done from ideal to what is realistic. Realize your resources and skills are limited, but your intentions are good. Try to get comfortable with that gap between perfection and reality instead of beating yourself up over it.
- Can you turn the situations around that make you feel guilty?
For example, when you feel guilty for losing your patience or getting angry, try to take a break instead of letting the guilt set in. It’s important that you have an outlet for your emotions. Exercise, bake your favorite dessert, get a massage, do something you enjoy or just find a quiet place to relax.
If you then feel guilty for taking time for yourself, remind yourself the only way you can care for others is if you first care for yourself. Take responsibility for your own well-being and get enough sleep, eat healthy and make time to enjoy your life.
- Have you considered asking for help?
Acknowledge that caring for someone can be seen in many different forms. You don’t need to be doing the daily tasks to show you care. Imagine if someone else were handling your parent’s cooking, cleaning, medical appointments and more, and you could stop by just to have a cup of coffee.
Has your parent-child relationship been sidelined as you’ve focused on being the caregiver? It may be time to get that relationship back.