Taking care of an elderly parent is both rewarding and challenging. There’s no doubt that adult children who become family caregivers have a lot of demands on their time and emotions. Guilt is a particularly strong emotion that manifests frequently in family caregivers. If guilt and stress are not managed properly, it can lead to burnout and even depression.
What Triggers Family Caregiver Guilt?
Family caregiver guilt usually doesn’t stem from one source. Instead, it is the normal reaction that the adult child has when dealing with a lot of negative emotions and stressors. When the family caregiver has a negative feeling or reaction and then feels bad about it, they experience guilt. It’s important that they learn to manage their stress and deal with guilt because it can negatively affect their health in the form of insomnia, high blood pressure, destructive behavior, anxiety, and depression.
Some of the circumstances that may trigger guilt in family caregivers include comparing their good health with their aging loved one’s poor health or living without pain while their relative suffers. Other examples include losing their patience, losing their temper or arguing with the aging adult. A common situation is when the family caregiver takes a break from caregiving but feels guilty for doing so. A buildup of resentment at how the elderly loved one’s illness has changed everyone’s life is also common. Because of the multiple factors that contribute to caregiving, these negative emotions are connected to family caregiver guilt.
Managing Family Caregiver Guilt
When it comes to managing family caregiver guilt, there are several different solutions that can be used effectively. One of the first management strategies to ensure the best health and wellness is to take care of the body with a healthy diet, plenty of restful sleep and exercise. A healthy body will be better able to withstand the effects of stress. Another thing that family caregivers should do is to come to acknowledge that negative feelings are normal and nothing to suppress. Forgiving oneself and admitting that they are doing the best they can goes a long way toward releasing guilt.
One of the most effective things to overcome caregiver guilt is to hire a home care provider. These professionals come in and assist the elderly adult with tasks like laundry, housekeeping, bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene, pet care, meal planning and more. Their presence allows family caregivers to take well-deserved breaks and focus on themselves for a change. Because their elderly relatives are in good hands, family caregivers can gain respite when they need it most.
Adopting these and other stress management strategies can really reduce the number of negative feelings that family caregivers face. Home care providers are a key part of a lifestyle where family caregivers don’t shoulder the responsibilities of everything alone. Focusing on self-care and setting boundaries on a regular basis is the best way to overcome caregiver guilt.