Overcoming Caregiver Guilt When Providing Dementia Care

It’s important to learn to be kind to yourself when caregiver guilt creeps in.

In any given day in the life of a caregiver, a full gamut of emotions can come into play. Joy in hearing a senior loved one’s laughter. Pride in knowing you’re making a difference in the senior’s life. Frustration and stress when things don’t go according to plan. And perhaps one of the most common: guilt.

Caregiver guilt is particularly common when caring for someone with dementia. Dementia care is both challenging and ever-changing. What works today may not work tomorrow, as the disease progresses and the older adult experiences more intense effects. Knowing exactly how to meet the needs of someone with dementia isn’t easy, and there will be times you wish you’d done something differently. As the premier source for care provider referral services throughout Florida, American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care understands that managing feelings of guilt starts with understanding the different scenarios in which they arise, such as:

  • Comparing yourself to others. It may seem as though others caring for a senior with dementia have it all together and know just how to handle the difficult effects of the disease. Why is it so easy for them and so hard for you? It’s helpful to remind yourself that no one is perfect, and regardless of outward appearances, it’s likely that anyone providing dementia care is struggling in one way or another. Set realistic goals and expectations based on your particular circumstance and steer clear of comparisons.
  • Getting stuck in the “should haves.” It’s easy to look back and zero in on any regrets you may have. Looking back at your relationship with the senior prior to a dementia diagnosis can bring to mind situations you wish you’d handled differently. Allow yourself time to look back, but from the perspective of learning what you’d like to do differently now and in the future, instead of getting stuck in the past.
  • Thinking negative or unkind thoughts. It’s common for seniors with dementia to behave in ways that are off-putting. A senior may become aggressive and combative, exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors, repeat a statement or question over and over again throughout the day – just to name a few. Accept that there are dementia-driven behaviors you dislike, and work through them by talking with a trusted friend or professional counselor, or expressing your feelings through journaling.
  • Losing your temper. Feeling frustrated and angry are natural responses to the level of stress that is often inherent with dementia care. Find healthy releases for these emotions, such as deep breathing, counting, meditation, and especially by taking regular breaks from care to engage in exercise and relaxing, enjoyable activities. A professional caregiver should be an integral part of the senior’s care team to provide you with the respite you need.

The aging care experts at American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help family caregivers enjoy quality time with the seniors they love as well as time away to themselves to rest and recharge.

Contact us any time to share the challenges you’re facing and to allow us to be part of the solution. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

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