caregiver guilt

How to Overcome Caregiver Guilt With Your Parents

All you want is the best for your aging loved ones.

When assistance is needed, empathy kicks in and you take action. However, caregiver guilt is a very real issue that warrants it’s own discussion and management plan.

According to a recent Pew research study, more than 65% of U.S. adults take an active role in caring for an aging parent or loved one.

Once you assume this important responsibility, a “role reversal” occurs in your life which often leads to guilt that feels beyond your control.

What Is Caregiver Guilt?

These are just a few ways guilt is manifested during the caregiving process:

  • Not spending enough time with your aging loved ones before assuming that caregiver role.
  • Any past negative feelings you may have harbored for an aging loved one
  • The resentment of adapting suddenly to a new life as a caretaker.
  • Possibly having to move a loved one from their home, a place that represents years of memories.

If any of this sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone.

These guilty feelings are common and natural. Most importantly, there are ways to overcome your guilt so you can provide the best care possible.

Address Your Emotions From The Start

When you’re in the thick of caregiving, feelings of guilt can lead to isolation, and eventually, depression.

This isn’t the healthiest mental attitude to have to administer effective care, but how do you snap out of it?

The first step you need to take is to anticipate and address your emotions from the get-go, regardless of how intense those emotions are.

Instead of bottling up that guilt and putting on a brave face, you need to let your guard down and seek professional help to cope with these upcoming changes to your own life.

Fortunately, there are professional services available that offer both personal consulting and educational resources to help prepare you for this new role reversal.

Another option is to book regular appointments with a licensed therapist to help you understand and work through your guilt. Plus, keeping regular weekly appointments will help you maintain the range of stress and emotions you’re likely to encounter while caregiving.

Regularly Engage With Your Aging Loved Ones

It’s easy to become consumed in the caregiver role and think only about your responsibilities.

Once you’re a caregiver, you’re flooded with the following worries:

  • “Are they eating okay?”
  • “Are they happy?”
  • “Do they seem lonely?”
  • “Are they sleeping well? Or at all?”

The list could go on and on, but it also powers the negative cycle of caregiver guilt.

But don’t forget about the power of communication. Regularly communicating with your aging loved ones is like music to their ears.

Discussing memories, latest accomplishments, hobbies, and more positive topics can uplift both of your spirits. It’s also a great way to mitigate your feelings of role reversal guilt and their feelings of role reversal depression.

Remember, you’re only human.

Caregiver guilt is nothing to be ashamed of, and tackling it head on is greatly beneficial to you and your loved ones’ well-being.

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Kendall E. Van Blarcom, Psy.M. Licensed Psychotherapist (Retired)

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