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.
- Do you feel trapped?
- Are you resentful?
- Do you feel others are doing a better job?
- 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!