Identifying and Managing Caregiver Guilt

November 14th, 2019 | For Family Members


Caregiving is an invaluable yet incredibly difficult task. Caregivers assist in the everyday tasks for loved ones such as running errands, helping with paperwork, managing medicine and mail often without any reward and sometimes without gratitude. Because paying for in-house care is extremely expensive, caregivers have become the backbone of an aging generation’s personal support. 

For caregivers who are trying to manage other important personal obligations and responsibilities this burden can seem overwhelming. Attending to their own needs often leads to what is known as Caregiver Guilt. When you’re caring full-time this feeling can be quite difficult to identify, and it’s for that reason that caregivers sometimes need an objective opinion to help them identify caregiver guilt.

What Causes Caregiver Guilt?

Constantly having to worry about the various needs of aging parents and loved ones causes many caregivers to feel guilt or even anger. A common source of this guilt is the unhappiness of feeling trapped and obligated with the task of caring for aging parents. Feeling burdened with the task of caring for someone you love can almost seem like a betrayal.

Caregiver guilt can also manifest in other ways. Perhaps you’re scared of not doing enough for someone who has memory needs, or you feel that you’re not spending enough personal time with your senior loved ones. Caregivers might also feel guilting transitioning an aging parent into a senior living community, or may be afflicted by personal issues that could prevent them from caring for someone who needs it.

Tools for Managing Caregiver Guilt

Painful feelings associated with guilt – like sadness, anger, and resentment – hurt like any other types of pain. If you identify that you may be dealing with caregiver guilt, there are many tools and resources to help you manage these negative feelings.

If you’re struggling, it might help to read through the following eight tips to help you manage your caregiver guilt:

  1. Acknowledge the guilt and accept that it’s normal to feel guilty sometimes.
  2. Accept your humanity and the inherent flaws that come with it.
  3. Reach out for support from family and friends.
  4. Find and join caregiver support groups in your area.
  5. Know you’re making the best decisions you can for you and your loved ones.
  6. Deal with changes in situation – like declining health, an injury, accident or inability to take care of themselves – that can force people to make decisions and changes.
  7. Trust you are making the best decision under ever changing circumstances.
  8. Make time for yourself – even an hour or two a week can help put the situation in better perspective and help you de-stress.

Understanding Available Options

There’s no blanket definition to describe the situation of every caregiver. Each separate case has its own unique challenges. Each caregiver feels different emotions and levels of stress; but dealing with these issues will allow you to be more balanced and give you the tools to balance your own life with the care you provide for your loved one.

That being said, at some point it might be prudent to take a look at a host of different options available to you. Caregiving is a selfless act, but it isn’t the only possibility for ensuring your loved ones receive attentive and quality care.

While ensuring that your loved ones are happy and cared for is undoubtedly a key concern, eventually it may make sense to pass their care over to professional care services. Senior living communities are great in this regard. They provide a residential space where senior citizens can live the fullest life according to their needs, with the added benefit of being around like minded residents and peers. This can help eliminate the stress of being a caregiver by giving you peace of mind that your loved ones are receiving round the clock care, while also freeing up time for your own personal commitments.