Believe it or not, guilt is a very normal part of the caregiver journey. Whether you’ve been caring for your loved one for years, or just started making decisions as their health changed, guilt can happen. It’s not because you’re doing anything wrong, it’s simply a normal experience that we recognize and frequently see with our families at Maplewood Senior Living.
What you need to know about caregiver guilt is that it happens for a variety of reasons, and it’s ok to speak up when you are experiencing it. You may have siblings or a spouse that is critical of your choices, or doesn’t seem to want to help. Or, you may simply become overwhelmed and wish you could take a break or had less responsibility. No matter the cause, there are many healthy ways to overcome caregiver guilt.
First, remember that it’s okay to feel anger. That’s right, being angry is a normal part of the caregiver journey, especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Caring for another adult can be physically, emotionally and financially taxing. When that person struggles to remember who you are, and in some cases, is angry with you for your efforts, it is overwhelming.
You may also feel anger because you can’t control or fix the situation, or because you are the only one who is there to help. Many caregivers become angry at other family members, who are unable or unwilling to share the cost or energy it takes to care for an ailing parent.
Anger is not an unhealthy emotion, but what you do with it matters. Overcoming caregiver guilt means acknowledging it and finding an appropriate outlet. Talk to your friends and family and be honest about how you are feeling. Ask for help, and investigate options that would make a difference for you.
If you feel isolated or are having a hard time connecting with people because they don’t quite understand what you are going through, support groups are an excellent choice. There are options, whether you prefer to talk to other caregivers about the challenges you’re facing, or want to specifically talk about caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Not only will these groups connect you with others going through similar situations, they typically offer resources and education to help too.
Don’t forget that taking care of yourself is essential as you invest energy in taking care of someone else. At any point in your caregiving journey, it’s okay and necessary to ask for help. Many of our resident’s children at Maplewood Senior Living were dedicated caregivers before choosing one of our communities. As their parents settled in, they were able to take less of a full-time caregiver role and finally enjoy quality time together again.
Many children of our residents share how our 24/7 onsite care helps them to feel comfortable that their parents will be safe, as they settle into our community. Maplewood is an extension of home, with staff that feels like family and an environment that feels warm and welcoming. One daughter shared how she was able to take a vacation for the first time in three years, knowing that she could, without worry.
Maplewood Senior Living family members share how a move to a senior living community has brought peace of mind, click here to watch.
Whether you consider a Maplewood Senior Living community, or choose to care for your loved one on your own, we recognize the unique challenges that come with your role. It’s okay to experience guilt or anger, or to ask for help. We believe when you have the support you need, you are able to better support and connect with your loved one.
For more information, on overcoming guilt, click here.