Painful feelings are a natural consequence of caregiving. When caregivers experience guilt, they shouldn’t react by dwelling on their feelings of shame or bottling up their emotions. Here are five tips for caregivers who want to manage their guilt in productive ways.
1. Face the Guilt Head-On
Caregivers often neglect their own emotional needs. Keeping emotions bottled up is never a good idea because they’ll eventually rise to the forefront and make their presence known. Don’t try to deny your feelings of guilt. Instead, recognize these feelings and try to find their source so you can prevent negative emotions from bubbling over at inopportune times.
Caring for an aging adult and assisting him or her with daily tasks can be overwhelming at times. However, the challenges of caregiving don’t have to be faced alone. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.
2. Use Guilt as a Roadmap
Oftentimes, caregiver guilt is a sign personal needs aren’t being met. Guilt is caused by a disparity between the “ideal self” and the “actual self.” The “ideal self” may be a perfect caregiver who never raises his or her voice and is always 10 minutes early for appointments. The “actual self” may be a loving caregiver who sometimes makes mistakes. When you come to terms with the perceived failings that are causing your guilt, you can also come to terms with the changes you need to make. These changes might be related to your caregiving methods. Perhaps you need to create a better time management system. On the other hand, guilt might be an indicator you need to take a step back. You might come to understand you’re falling short of your ideals not because you need to do more but because you need to do less. In these situations, ask family and friends for help.
3. Meet Personal Needs
When caregivers feel guilty about their perceived inadequacies, it’s not always limited to caregiving. Oftentimes, guilt is an expression of dissatisfaction. If you’re experiencing too many negative emotions, it may be a sign you need to set aside time each day to tend to your own needs. When caregivers feel emotionally fulfilled, they can handle negative emotions and thoughts.
Consider hiring a professional caregiver if you need a break from your caregiving duties to meet your personal needs. Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Jefferson County families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home.
4. Talk about It
Caregivers don’t have to handle their guilt by themselves. You should always feel free to talk about your negative emotions with friends and family. Talking about guilt can be a major relief for caregivers who don’t have outlets for their emotions.
5. Take Steps to Avoid Outbursts
Anger is another common cause of caregiver guilt. After caregivers get angry or frustrated with their loved ones, they feel guilty because their loved ones aren’t responsible for their conditions. This can become a self-perpetuating cycle. You get angry, then you feel guilty about it, and the emotions keep building. Eventually, you may notice your temper getting worse, and you may have a difficult time controlling your emotions. To break out of this cycle, be on the lookout for situations that trigger negative emotions. If you can establish why and when you get angry, you can remove yourself from triggering situations.
Hiring professional caregivers is one of the best ways family members can delegate caregiving duties to others and keep guilt and other negative emotions at bay. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide homecare services. Jefferson County families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. Call us today at (303) 987-5992 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.