WELLNESS SPOTLIGHT: What is caregiver guilt?

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Marie Littrell

There are 43.5 million people caring for those 50 years old and older, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Because of the demands placed on caregivers, they can feel alone and depressed.

Many caregivers do not take time to take care of their own physical and emotional needs.

Caregiver guilt is just one of the adverse outcomes of being a full time, in-home caregiver for a loved one. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the psychological and physical effects of being a caregiver can be life altering. Guilt is one of the most pervasive emotional hurdles that caregivers face, according to Mimi Goodrich, a licensed clinical social worker at the Wellness Center in San Mateo, Calif.

“The caregivers feel it's their obligation to make these years the happiest,” Goodrich said. “But none of us has that power. When caregivers have expectations that are unrealistic, that's when the guilt comes in."

Some caregivers feel as though they owe it to a loved one to take on the responsibility of caregiver by themselves so no one else has to bear the burden. Admitting a need for help is the best thing a caregiver can do.

Finding a place to vent your feelings, frustrations and concerns, whether to a support group or to a trusted friend, is critical in maintaining your ability to help your loved one.

Some local long-term care communities offer respite or senior daycare services that offer a temporary break from your care-giving role. As a caregiver, look into this before you burn out. Taking the time for yourself may give you the time you need to maintain your ability to care for an elderly loved one. 

While it is stressful, taking on the responsibility as a caregiver can be a positive transition. Remember that your best is good enough and utilizing helpful resources is a positive, helpful action to take.

Tagged under  Family, Health, Health Care, Relationships, Wellness Spotlight

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