On the one hand, caring for an elderly loved one is a labour of love. On the other hand, caregiving can be stressful and, in many cases, it can bring up a lot of negative emotions.
You might feel resentful about sacrificing so much of your life to care for another person. Or perhaps you didn’t have the best relationship with your aging mother/father/relative and now that you are their caregiver it is not uncommon to feel anger, sadness, and very often - guilt.
Guilt because you feel like you should be doing more or a better job. Guilt because you feel you just want your life back even though you are committed to caring for them. Guilt because you took time out or have neglected other relationships.
It’s very normal for caregivers to feel guilt, and it’s not something that can always be ignored or wished away. While there is no right or wrong way to feel, there are strategies for dealing with negative emotions in a healthy way.
Acknowledge your feelings. It really helps to simply be honest about your situation. Whether you express yourself to a friend, family member, therapist or in a journal – giving yourself permission to own your feelings can be very grounding and help you reframe the situation.
Accept that you are not going to be able to do everything. You are human – a wonderful one but not a perfect one. Free yourself from the chains of perfectionism, acknowledge what you are doing. Make a point of reminding yourself that you’re doing a good job.
Take a guilt-free break! Choose a day and commit to self-care. It's easier said than done but it is important to be good to yourself. Create a self-care plan – activities you enjoy and things you can do to feel good about you. Don’t feel guilty about filling up your emotional cup.
It's ok to ask for help. Find a caregivers’ support network or connect with other caregivers who can relate to what you are going through. And share the load, don’t make yourself the solely responsible for your loved one – even if they are living with Dementia, or easily upset or argumentative. A professional home care agency (like the CareCompany) is equipped to deal with even in the most difficult cases on a long or short-term basis so you can have a break.
Be aware of your influences. Stop comparing your situation to others and limit your exposure to toxic people and situations. By making healthy choices about what you feed your mind and soul, you are more empowered to manage your expectations of yourself and others.
Guilt can be one of the hardest emotions for caregivers to deal with, but by accepting that you feel guilty and having a plan for dealing with those feelings, you will be better able to handle the situation. Remember that you are doing a tremendous service for your loved one. You deserve to be gentle and kind to yourself throughout the caregiving journey and above all else, you are not alone.
If you are battling to care for a loved one or simply need some time out, call on the CareCompany for warm, professional service you can count on. Call us on 072 667 8664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and talk to us about how we help elders maintain their dignity and independence while living in their own home.
We’re here to help!