If you’re providing care for an older loved one, you likely know this emotion all too well: caregiver guilt. It doesn’t matter how much time and effort we spend taking care of a senior loved one, somehow it never quite seems to be enough, leaving us thinking we could have done more, shown more kindness, been more patient. And if we don’t properly deal with the guilt, it can eat away at us, leaving us with feelings of deep remorse and diminishing our self-worth.
A common circumstance might look like this: you wake up, hurry to get the kids up and out the door for school, toss in a load of laundry and begin to get your senior loved one ready to start the day. You get her settled in for breakfast and mentally work through your lengthy to-do list for the day, when your senior loved one states that she would like her toast without butter this morning; would you mind fixing her another slice? Feeling irritated at this extra task, regardless of how small, causes you to snap back at her with an unkind remark.
Even though you quickly recognize you’ve overreacted, the damage has been done. You see a tear in your loved one’s eye, and immediately apologize and present her with the requested breakfast change and a hug. And while your loved one has moved on from the experience and is happily enjoying her breakfast, the feelings of guilt settle deeper into your core, making it hard to forgive yourself and let go of the mistake.
And yet letting go of caregiver guilt is so crucial, both for the caregiver herself and the older person for whom she’s providing care. Try these recommendations from Hearts at Home’s experts in in-home elder care in Kansas City and surrounding areas:
- Stay realistic. Realize that we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. There’s no such thing as a perfect caregiver. Remind yourself of the many positive ways you’re improving quality of life for your senior loved one, and then forgive yourself and learn from the mistakes.
- Take care of yourself. It’s a lot easier to lose patience when we’re exhausted, and let’s be honest: the life of a senior caregiver calls for a lot of time and energy, leaving little opportunity for self-care. Make it a priority to set aside regular time for yourself to rest, relax and recharge with enjoyable activities, get plenty of sleep, and follow a healthy diet.
- Seek support. Whether through an online caregiver support group, a close friend or two, or a professional counselor, it’s necessary for caregivers to find an outlet to share their feelings with those who will understand and provide needed support.
The best solution to ensure a healthy life balance and the best possible care for a senior loved one is by partnering with a professional home care agency like Hearts at Home. Our respite care services allow family caregivers to take a much-needed break while having the assurance that their loved one is receiving the highest quality care.
Let us walk beside you through your senior care journey and find a greater level of peace of mind and enjoyment in life! Contact Hearts at Home, the top providers of in-home elder care in Kansas City and the surrounding areas, by calling 913-440-4209. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities we serve.