Don’t fall for the caregiver guilt trap
Common beliefs about what caregivers should be or should do hurt you because they push you to take on more than what’s realistic and make you feel guilty. These myths also devalue your effort and sacrifice.
No caregiver should feel guilty or inadequate because what they’re doing doesn’t suit someone else’s expectations. That goes double if that person isn’t a caregiver and isn’t willing to help out!
Myth #1: If you don’t provide hands-on personal care, you’re not a family caregiver.
Popular belief: You can only call yourself a family caregiver if you help your older adult with tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, etc. If you aren’t doing personal care, whatever you are doing doesn’t count.
Truth: That’s absolutely not true! Your contribution is important and does make a difference.
There are many roles a caregiver can take on. For example, you might spend hours managing your dad’s finances. Or you could work closely with a geriatric care manager to make sure your mom, who lives across the country, has the best care possible.
Some caregivers manage and accompany their senior to any and all medical appointments. Many regularly buy groceries, deliver meals, do household chores, or go for long visits.
If you didn’t take on those responsibilities, your older adult would suffer for the lack of help. Being a critical part of their support system makes you a caregiver.
Myth #2: You should be able to do everything by yourself and shouldn’t burden others by asking for help.
Popular belief: One person should take responsibility for everything their senior needs and be able to handle it all by themselves. If they can’t, it’s because they’re doing a bad job.
Truth: No caregiver should ever feel like they should be doing everything alone. That’s what causes severe chronic stress, physical illness, and burnout.
Caring for an older adult is a team sport. It doesn’t matter if your team is made up of family, friends, or hired professionals. Trying to do it alone isn’t healthy.
You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” right? Well, it’s the same for caring for your senior. Caregivers need and deserve help. Besides, “many hands make light work!”
Don’t let other people’s misguided beliefs and unrealistic expectations about caregiving hurt you by causing guilt, severe chronic stress, or burnout.
It’s important to do what’s right for your senior, but it’s equally important to care for yourself, get the help you need, and feel good about what you’re doing.
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Continuum Care