Nurturing Yourself: Strategies to Combat the Guilt of Caregiving

: A sad emoji with downcast eyes that exemplifies the guilt of caregiving.

The guilt of caregiving is quite common among family caregivers, but with a few strategies, it can be easier to let go of those feelings.

Most people are attempting to juggle several assorted obligations, and for family caregivers, it can feel like trying to juggle flaming swords and knives. It’s normal for family members to become overwhelmed and to experience feelings of caregiver guilt when wanting to provide the best care for a member of the family.

The guilt of caregiving can manifest in various forms. Maybe you are feeling like you’re not spending enough time with the person in your care. You may be feeling guilty about contemplating a nursing home for the older person. The guilt could come about after the senior’s dementia-fueled repetitions caused you to snap. Or perhaps you feel like you’re not paying enough attention to your own children in the process of caring for a senior family member.

When caregiver guilt creeps in, try to keep this declaration top of mind: You are doing the best you can, and it’s ok to request help.

Let’s look more closely at that statement. First: you are doing your very best. You probably would agree, but do you truly believe it? Reminding yourself about the following facts if you’re not sure might help:

  • I am doing the best that I can.
  • My loved one appreciates me, even if they can’t or refuse to say it out loud.
  • Mistakes are likely to happen.
  • I cannot control or correct the past, but I can control my feelings about it.
  • I am doing enough.

It may even be helpful to place these and other affirmations on sticky notes throughout the house, such as on the refrigerator or in the medicine cabinet. And if there’s a specific statement that really inspires you, make use of the calendar app on your phone to set it as a daily reminder.

Second: It’s ok to ask for help, whether it’s professional help from Partners in Care, or help from other relatives, your own personal friends, or your loved one’s friends.

Let’s begin with your loved one’s friends. We’ve all heard from well-meaning friends, “Just let me know what I can do to help.” But do we ever take them up on their offer? Your older loved one’s friends in the community may refrain from helping so as not to step on your toes. Contact them and request specific help, such as, “Would you come visit with Dad every Thursday for a couple of hours?” You may be surprised to find how willing people are to pitch in — they simply need to find out what you need.

Siblings as well as other family members who live nearby may also merely need to be asked. Remember, if you’re able to find help for even a few small chores, you will surely feel less bogged down. Maybe Aunt Betty can take Mom to her weekly physical therapy appointment, or Cousin Bob can go with Grandma to church.

If family members live at a considerable distance, ask them to help with tasks that can be taken care of over the telephone or online, like researching adult day care facilities, or determining the most cost-effective drug store for the senior’s medications.

The best solution, however, is partnering with Partners in Care for professional in-home care assistance. We are available to help with home care services such as:

  • Nutritious meal planning and preparation
  • Routine respite care
  • Transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Light housework and laundry
  • Engaging companionship
  • Specialty care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other chronic conditions
  • And more

Partners in Care is here to walk beside you during your caregiving journey. Our trained and experienced home care team can meet a wide range of needs specific to the challenges a senior is experiencing. Our caregiving professionals can make sure your loved one has everything needed, providing you with essential time away for self-care. Contact Partners in Care, the top-rated provider of elderly home care in Auburn, Diamond Springs, and the surrounding communities, at (530) 268-7423 for more information.

Shaun Clinkinbeard