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Caregiver Guilt: Origins and Practical Solutions

By Melissa Hill, 6:32 pm on

Elder caregivers commonly feel guilty for not doing enough, or for doing too much. They feel guilty for having an inappropriate feeling or thought, for taking time off, and for needing help. Many caregiving situations provoke guilt, but they’re not all legitimate. Too often, nagging guilt is undeserved. Where does the guilt habit come from? And what can you do about it?

As a trusted senior home care provider in Oklahoma, we want you to know that you are not alone in this journey and want to offer a bit of information about caregiver guilt, its origins and practical solutions.

Why do caregivers feel guilty?

Guilt is self-blame. Painful pangs of guilt occur when you blame yourself for doing what seems like the wrong thing. Other times, you feel something honest, but are afraid to own it and feel guilty about it instead.

We may feel guilty after making a mistake, getting angry or impatient, or even fantasizing about escape from the burden of caregiving. In these cases, the guilt functions as a tool for self-punishment.

Should caregivers feel guilty?

Many caregivers, observing their own flaring emotions, are tempted to ask: should I feel guilty? If you have to ask, the answer is probably no. Caregiving is incredibly challenging. The stress of elder care can drive us to think and do some crazy things. But that doesn’t mean we should be punished with guilt every time we make a mistake.

Sometimes, what we perceive as wrong isn’t really so bad. It may be a totally normal reaction that ends up being relatively harmless. Judging yourself so harshly can quickly degrade your sense of self-worth and paralyze your effectiveness as a caregiver.

How can caregivers move forward?

In elder care, a long learning curve is to be expected. Perfection is not possible. Even if you have done something wrong, getting guilt-bogged won’t help you solve the problem. If at all possible, caregivers should strive to ‘let it go’ – set their guilt aside and move forward with a self-forgiving attitude.

And if you need help with caregiving, don’t be afraid to reach out to help. It’s important for caregivers to know that there are ample support services and that caregiving is not a journey that must be shouldered alone. Find out more about live-in and hourly care from Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma by calling 405-285-4191 – our phone lines are open 24/7 and we offer complimentary in-home consultations where you can learn more about our respite care services.