The responsibility of being of a caregiver is often something you feel like you can’t escape. You probably find yourself waking up in the middle of night to field calls, dropping plans to visit or calling off work to make doctor appointment trips. After some time, an unfamiliar feeling begins to creep in. Caregiver guilt is a sense of duty that makes you feel bad for doing anything other than caring for your loved one.
Guilt, like many other emotions can be a positive force to help keep our behavior in check. But what should you do when this healthy emotion goes from being a moral compass to a heavy burden? With caregiver guilt, you often feel trapped by an unrealistic sense of obligation. In this article you’ll gain a better understanding of caregiver guilt and what you can do to overcome it.
Why are you experiencing caregiver guilt? Your guilt over taking care of your loved one might stem from having unrealistic expectations. Many caregivers like you set up these perfect conditions for themselves and their loved one. The guilt comes from not being able to live up to the standards you set.
Thinking you can provide complete relief for your loved one without experiencing the negative side effects of being a caregiver is unrealistic. While the fantasy is appealing, a little self-compassion can bring some realism back into your life. You may owe your loved one your best effort, but that doesn’t mean perfection. Set realistic goals and celebrate the small victories, this will give you some perspective.
It’s safe to say that not being able to let go is part of the caregiver’s guilt definition. Guilt, like stress and anxiety, isn’t a problem if you only have to deal with the initial feeling. Things get challenging when you can’t let go and these feelings start to impact your life in negative ways. You can even be holding onto caregiver guilt without knowing it. This is where self-reflection comes into play.
The effects of being a caregiver are tough, but when is the last time you sat down and reflected on your feelings? Give your feelings context, and in time you’ll find it easier to let them go. No one can help you let go of caregiver guilt; it’s a choice you need to make for yourself. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know when that weight has drifted away.
Sometimes the solution to a problem is all about perspective. Let’s be honest, caregiver guilt can sometimes force you to do things that you don’t want to. This can lead to resentment for your situation and actually tighten the grip guilt has over you. Next time you have to put your caregiver hat on, look at a task as an opportunity to help rather than a box to check.
The best way to see how this works is to use a real-world example – taking your loved one to the doctor. Taking them when your schedule allows it doesn’t mean you don’t care enough. You’re taking the opportunity to find a time that works best for everyone. Try your best to make accommodations, but remember that if things aren’t perfect it’s not a reflection on how much you care.
Caregiver guilt, if not managed the right way, can drain your energy and take over daily life. While you’ll never be entirely free of guilt, with practice, you can keep it in check.
The effects of being a caregiver can be tough to manage. That’s why, at Symphony Senior Living, we designed our services to give residents’ families peace of mind. Contact us today to see how we can become a caring part of your family.