Caregiver guilt is common, and stressful
Many caregivers have extremely high (and often unfair) expectations for themselves.
That can add a significant amount of stress and guilt, which reduces quality of life and makes it harder to care for your older adult.
Dr. Barry J. Jacobs, an AARP caregiving expert, has years of personal experience caring for his mother. In his article, he shares 5 useful tips to reduce the guilt that caregiving often causes.
Here, we summarize the key points from his article.
5 expert tips for reducing caregiver guilt
1. Don’t aim for guilt-free caregiving
Guilt is part of who we are as caregivers. There will always be a difference between what we are truly able to do and what we think we should be doing, which causes guilt.
Work to accept the fact that it’s not realistic to do everything. That will help reduce those feelings of guilt.
2. Give up the fantasy of rescuing others
It’s tempting to think that if you can provide the absolute best care, your older adult will make a miraculous recovery. This sets an unrealistically high standard.
Aging and serious health conditions won’t stop affecting your older adult even if it was possible to be the most amazing caregiver of all time.
We should aim to do our best, but keep our goals realistic and take into account the reality of our older adult’s health situation.
3. Maintain balance
We have multiple people and relationships in our lives – parents, children, siblings, spouses, and friends.
Being a caregiver can take up a majority of our time and energy, but it’s still important to find ways to maintain our social connections. This balance is essential for emotional health.
4. Tolerate ambivalence
Having negative feelings is a natural part of the caregiving experience. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your older adult – it just means you’re human. After all, haven’t you had moments of annoyance or anger toward them before you became their caregiver?
Beating up on yourself for having negative thoughts, like resentment, anger, or irritation, simply isn’t fair to yourself and causes extra stress.
5. Find other motivations
When we feel guilty, we often force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do. That ends up making us resentful.
What helps to reduce guilt and stress is to work on being motivated by positive feelings, like wanting to provide care because it’s important to us.
Recommended for you:
- 5 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Guilt in Dementia Care
- 3 Reasons to Stop Feeling Guilty About Putting Mom in Assisted Living
- Don’t Fall for the Caregiver Guilt Trap: Two Common Myths
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Silver Threads
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