Caregiver Guilt – 5 Effective Ways To Deal With It

Dealing With Caregiver Guilt

What is Caregiver Guilt?

Guilt is a feeling we get when we do something wrong or feel that we should have done something differently. When we are caring for someone, there are going to be times when we second-guess ourselves and our decisions. This is perfectly normal!

Caregiver guilt usually comes about when we compare our own abilities to care for someone to an idealized version of what a caregiver should be. This can be especially true if we are caring for a loved one and feel like we are falling short in some way.

If you answer YES to any of the following then chances are…you are dealing with caregiver guilt.

  1. Do you feel trapped?
  2. Are you resentful?
  3. Do you feel others are doing a better job?
  4. Do you wish it was over?

These are normal feelings and there is no reason to feel guilty. I know it’s easy for someone to say that, but it’s the truth.

If you find it too difficult to deal with, PLEASE check out one or all of our five caregiver groups throughout Volusia County. Or contact us today about the many assisted living communities that can help in caregiving. 

How to Deal With Caregiver Guilt?

Now that you know what caregiver guilt is and realize you have it, what do you do now? How do you get over it or past it?

There are a few things you can do to deal with caregiver guilt and the myths that come with it:

1. Admit that the guilt is real

First and foremost, you must be able to admit to yourself that the guilt exists, then you will be able to deal with it in a rational manner. Notice when you feel guilty and acknowledge those feelings. Example: I feel so bad I yelled at mom this morning, I’m just so exhausted. Noticing when and why the guilt comes on can help you understand why you feel guilty and overcome it.

2. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? Setting your goals too high can lead to the guilt you feel and add to unnecessary stress on your mind and body. Thinking things like you should be able to take care of everything without feeling exhausted, or that you can never move your loved one to an assisted living community are just unrealistic.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need help and they become drained. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. Take it easy on yourself, caregiving is an extremely tiring job.

3. Comparing Yourself to Other Caregivers

Don’t compare your caregiving with someone else’s. You know the old saying, The grass is always greener? It may look that way on the outside, but inside that caregiver could be hurting just as much as you are and they don’t want you to think of them as failing. It may appear that they are better at coping with stress, finding resources, handling family life, and working, but you know very little. Nobody can do it all by themselves and there is no such thing as the perfect caregiver. Do NOT compare.

4. Find the Positive

Find positive ways of coping, such as writing in a journal, taking regular breaks, and exercising. These are good ways to improve your mood as well as help rid your mind of the guilt built up inside.

Think about all of the positive things that have come out of caring for your loved one. When you constantly dwell on the guilt, you tend to forget all the wonderful moments you have with your loved one and all the awesome things you have been able TO DO for them.

Focus on the positive and the negative will fade away.

5. Join a Group

Join a caregiver support group. It’s a great way to meet others who are feeling the same guilt you are and you will realize you are not alone. You can also benefit from the people in these groups by learning their techniques for coping with the guilt and stress of caregiving.

We at Assisted Living Made Simple hold five (5) caregiver support groups a month throughout Volusia County, please find one that fits your schedule and find the support you need.

You do NOT have to do this alone. We are here for you!

Top 3 Caregiver Guilt Myths

Top 3 Caregiver Guilt Myths and how to combat them

Are you caring for a loved one or a friend and sometimes think you’re not doing a good enough job?

This is a very common feeling and everyone feels this guilt at some point in time. There is nothing wrong with you, it is completely normal to have these feelings and break down every now and then.

We will take a look at some of the common caregiver guilt myths and how to deal with them in order to help you overcome some of the guilt you may feel.

We also hold five (5) Alzheimer’s/Dementia caregiver support groups a month; please check our resources page for the location nearest to you, https://almsnsb.com/resources/ 

Myth #1 – You’re Not Doing Enough

Do you ever tell yourself you should do more for the person you are caring for? That you should be assisting them every moment of every day? That nothing is more important than caring for them?

Stop telling yourself this!! The care you are providing is EXCELLENT and it is the best you can do. Do NOT let anyone convince you otherwise. You NEED to take time for yourself, or there could be damaging health consequences to your own health. Then who would take care of your loved one?

Caregiver Burnout is real and it is okay for you to bring in help and go for a walk, to the movies, out to dinner, or whatever you like to do for a little while. In fact, it is recommended!!

Myth #2 – Why is my loved one not improving?

→ How about this one: If I was a good caregiver, my loved one would be improving physically and mentally. Wrong!!

Yes, sometimes improvements can be made, but the truth of the matter is that your loved one is aging. With aging comes declination in the ability to function physically and sometimes mentally. Some seniors have underlying health conditions that cause further declination as well. Nothing you can do will reverse the process, so stop stressing over it and beating yourself up!!

Myth #3 – I made a bad decision

→ Here’s another good myth: If I had made a better decision, things wouldn’t be going so badly. What does that even mean?!?!?

How could you have possibly known what the outcome of your decision would have been?

You made the best decision based on the information you had at that time. Stop beating yourself up, there’s no way you can see into the future and predict the outcome would have been any different if you had chosen a different course of action. Learn from the mistake and do everything possible to avoid making it again.

Don’t let caregiver guilt get the better of you; you are doing everything you can.

I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to take time for yourself! This is so important to your overall health; PLEASE make time for yourself during this difficult stage. Things are hard enough without you making them harder.

Also, needing help is nothing to be ashamed of!

We all need help sometimes; if you find you just can’t cope anymore and think you are alone in this journey, please know that is NOT the case.

Come to one of our local support groups; you won’t believe how much better you will feel just knowing there are so many others going through the exact same things you are going through and you may even learn some pointers on how to deal with your situation better.

PLEASE reach out to us for assistance! You are NOT alone!!