Caring for someone can be consuming, physically exhausting and emotionally draining. There may be some days where you have negative feelings or resent your caregiver role, resulting in painful guilt. Am I spending enough time with my loved one? Am I spending enough time with my own family? How can I enjoy dinner out with my friends when my loved one needs me?
Try not to let yourself get caught up in caregiver guilt. Caregiving is a big responsibility, and sometimes you just might need a break. Unfortunately, taking a break to care for yourself or your own family can often result in even more feelings of guilt. Eventually, you may feel like you are trapped in a never-ending wheel of emotions.
Beating yourself up over your feelings or actions is counterproductive. Be your own best advocate, and in turn a better caregiver.
Following are suggestions from Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice to reduce feelings of caregiver guilt.
- Recognize feelings. Feelings can be messy. When you feel guilt, take a step back and try to understand why you're feeling this way. Most likely, your guilt is caused by unrealistic pressure you put on yourself. When you understand your guilt, it's much easier to feel relief and forgive yourself for your imperfections.
- Reach out. Ask for help. The responsibilities of a caregiver are limitless, and too much for one person to handle alone. Look to outside resources, such as an in-home health aid or meal service. Eliminating just one chore as small as taking out the trash can make it easier for you to carry the weight of your responsibilities. When you can manage your caregiver tasks, you will be able to perform better and experience less guilt.
- Book an "appointment." Take time out of your busy caregiver schedule to relax. Have a cup of tea, read a book or go to the spa. Whatever relaxes you, make time for it. If you book an "appointment" in your day for yourself, you'll be less likely to experience guilt or miss your important "appointment."
- Try not to be so hard on yourself. As a caregiver, it may be easier to be understanding with your loved one than with yourself. When you experience guilt, remember you're only human. Keep in mind that it's impossible to be perfect, and you're doing the best you can, given an uncontrollable, difficult situation.
For more information about Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice, visit barnabashealth.org.