Caring for an elderly loved one can bring family members and seniors closer together. However, because of the long-term, intense nature of caregiving, it’s also a source of some negative feelings that can lead to guilt within the family caregiver. Guilt can lead to negative actions, which in turn can create even more stress. Family caregivers can then be pulled into a downward spiral that can impact their physical and mental health.
Family caregivers may feel guilty about many different aspects of caring for an aging relative, including:
- Not providing good enough care
- Taking time for themselves
- Not patient or sensitive enough
- Feeling resentment for how much time things take
- Disliking the elderly relative
- Wishing someone else would take over
- Complaining about the role of caregiver
Dealing with too many negative emotions without an outlet can lead to anxiety, depression, and stress. Chronic stress affects blood pressure, sleep, appetite and the immune system. In other words, family caregivers that are unable to manage their guilty feelings are actually putting their own health at risk.
Fortunately, there are different ways that family caregivers can change their situation, so they don’t have as much guilt in their day-to-day life. While it may be impossible to prevent feelings of guilt, they can take important steps to manage it properly.
Here are some steps that help family caregivers successfully manage guilt:
- Admit that feelings of guilt are normal
- Instead of pushing guilty feelings down, allow them to surface from time to time
- Learn that feeling guilty is not a bad thing
- Look for patterns of self-denial and self-criticism.
- Strive to forgive themselves
Successfully managing guilt requires family caregivers to set boundaries in their life.
They must decide how much they can do and where to draw the line. One of the best ways to deal with guilt is to get plenty of time away from typical caregiving duties. Family caregivers need to take care of themselves, just as much as their elderly loved ones. Physical and mental self-care is critical in staying healthy and balanced. But how can family caregivers do this?
Hiring a home care provider is an excellent way for family caregivers to get some well-earned breaks. A professional home care provider knows how to work with seniors and they can handle just about any care duty. With a regular schedule, the family caregiver can turn over responsibilities to the home care provider. Then, they can engage in activities and relationships not related to caregiving and get some respite.
Caregiver guilt can greatly affect a family caregiver’s life, sapping their energy and making them tired and sick. Hiring a home care professional allows family caregivers to take care of themselves with the peace of mind of knowing their elderly loved one is in good hands.