Family caregivers give a lot of themselves to the people they care for, which often means leaving behind their own desires and needs in the process. It may seem normal, then, to presume that caregivers would feel good about themselves, with high self-worth and sense of purpose.
However, that is not always the case. Family caregiver guilt is prevalent, and many family caregivers wish they possessed more patience, the answer for all of their loved one’s problems, or the capability to accomplish everything on their own without needing help. They give themselves unattainable and unrealistic goals, which can lead to:
- Feeling trapped
- The desire to get away
- Never feeling good enough
- Heightened stress
- Lack of joy in life
- Lacking good quality time with a senior loved one
- And more
If you have been feeling the effects of family caregiver guilt, taking these actions can be extremely liberating:
- Maintain a realistic viewpoint, knowing that all family caregivers are faced with challenges. We are all human.
- Admit your feelings of guilt along with the particular reason causing it; as an example, “I am feeling guilty because I became impatient with Dad’s repeated questions.”
- Change your focus to a positive outcome. Remind yourself of the joke you told that made Dad laugh this morning, or how much he loved the lunch you prepared.
- Be sure to put aside plenty of time for soothing, pleasurable and gratifying activities: engaging in favorite pastimes and hobbies, journaling, spending time with friends, family and pets, etc.
- Exchange your internal “should have” dialogues with a more encouraging slant: “It is difficult to respond to the same questions repeatedly, and I am doing the best that I can.”
- Find a support partner. To be the best family caregiver you can be means ongoing, scheduled breaks from care to take care of your own needs.
- Follow a healthier lifestyle that includes nutritious meals, aiming for 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, exercising, giving up smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
Reach out to San Diego Home Caregivers at (619) 487-9000 for top-rated home care in Point Loma and the surrounding areas that allows family caregivers time to destress and unwind, an integral aspect of effective elder care. We’re available based on your preferred schedule and routine, with as much or as little care as needed, up through and including 24/7 care. Keep in mind that taking the best care of yourself helps you to provide the best care for the senior you love, and we are always on hand to assist!