Family care providers give a great deal of themselves to take care of their loved ones, often surrendering their own desires and needs during the process. It seems natural to assume then that caregivers would feel great about themselves, with high self-esteem and sense of purpose.
Yet the opposite is usually true, with many family care providers struggling with thoughts and feelings of guilt, wishing they had more patience, the answer for all of their senior loved ones’ issues, or even the ability to accomplish everything on their own without the need for assistance. They may have set unrealistic and unattainable standards, which could result in:
- Feeling trapped
- Not feeling good enough
- Wanting to get away
- Lack of joy in life
- Heightened stress
- Missing out on high quality time together with their loved one
- And much more
If you are dealing with feelings of family caregiver guilt, taking these steps can be extremely freeing:
- Admit your feelings of guilt and also the specific reason behind it; for instance, “I feel guilty because I became impatient with Dad’s repeated questions.”
- Keep a realistic perspective, knowing that all family caregivers are struggling with challenges. We’re all human.
- Replace your internal “should have” dialogues with a more favorable slant: “It is hard to answer exactly the same questions over and over again, and I am doing the best that I can.”
- Change your focus to a positive achievement. Remind yourself of the joke you told that made Dad chuckle this morning, or just how much he enjoyed the breakfast you prepared.
- Make sure to set aside enough time for calming, pleasurable and gratifying activities: engaging in favorite pastimes and hobbies, journaling, spending time with friends, family and pets, etc.
- Follow a healthier lifestyle which includes nutritious foods, striving for 7 – 8 hours of sleep nightly, exercising, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
- Find a support partner. To be the best caregiver you can be requires routine, regular breaks from caregiving to take care of yourself.
Reach out to CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 for trusted respite care that enables family caregivers time to destress and unwind, a necessary component to effective senior care. Our in home caregivers in Orange County and surrounding areas are available for your desired schedule and routine, with as much or as little ongoing support as necessary, up through 24/7 care. Remember that taking the best care of yourself allows you to provide the best care for the older adult you love, and we are always available to help!