Family Caregiver, You Are Guilty…

Hand about to bang gavel on sounding block in the court room

Are you guilty of caregiver guilt?

Family caregiver, you are guilty…but not of a crime.

Providing care for a senior loved one? You’re likely feeling guilty. Guilty about not spending enough time with your family and friends. Guilty about considering the possibility of assisted living for a senior parent. Guilty for snapping when your loved one with dementia asked the same question for the tenth time today.

But what you’re really guilty of is:

  • Working too hard
  • Neglecting your own emotional and physical health
  • Judging yourself too harshly

While rewarding in many ways, caring for a senior family member is one of the most challenging things you will ever do, and the role of family caregiver often comes at the busiest stage of your life. Caregivers often have full-time jobs in addition to caregiving, as well as children and spouses who need attention, too.

How do I know if I’m working too hard? Write down a quick estimate of the number of hours you’ve spent over the past week taking care of your loved one; working at your paying job if you have one; with your spouse/children; on recreational activities like reading, exercise, and watching TV; and sleeping. Now imagine this is someone else’s list. Is that person living a balanced life?

How do I know if I need self-care? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ask yourself: How does my body feel right now? When was the last time I exercised? The last time I took time to savor a healthy meal? Had a date night with my spouse? A walk in the park? Read a good book? 

It’s important to take care of yourself. In fact, taking care of yourself is a key part of providing care for others. You can’t give anything to anyone when you’re running on empty. You will be a better, more patient, more compassionate caregiver if you feel refreshed and energized.

How do I know if I’m being too hard on myself? It’s normal to judge your performance as a caregiver, but remember, it’s a job you weren’t necessarily trained to do. What expectations have you set that may have caused guilt? Are they realistic expectations? If so, then what will you do differently next time? If not, then let go of the guilt.

Now that you’ve admitted you’re working too hard, neglecting yourself, and judging yourself, how can you alleviate your feelings of guilt?

Make self-care a priority. Schedule time to:

  • Take an exercise class
  • Go for a walk
  • Meet a friend for lunch
  • Treat yourself to a movie
  • Attend your child’s sporting events
  • Sit and relax

Get help. Asking for help can be difficult, but it can be the best thing for both yourself and the loved one for whom you’re providing care. You are not doing your loved one any favors if you’re exhausted and stressed out. There are many places where you can get help.

Take advantage of respite care. It’s okay to seek professional home care in Libertyville IL for your loved one. Home care agencies can provide care that can be scheduled for a few hours a week, full-time, or around the clock. The professional team at Partners in Senior Care, providers of the compassionate home care Libertyville IL seniors need, can help your loved one with daily tasks including light housekeeping, medication management, and meal preparation, while freeing you to take better care of yourself.

Contact Partners in Senior Care online or at 847-548-1330 for more information about our Libertyville IL home care services. As the top senior care partners Illinois families trust, our dedicated caregivers are here to help you find the support you and your loved ones need.