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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Huelat

10 Keys to Managing Caregiver Guilt

Ever feel like guilt is the unwelcome guest on your caregiving journey? Trust me, you're not alone. From the chaos of momentary outbursts to the weight of long-term care, managing caregiver guilt has been a rollercoaster for me as I care for my loved ones with dementia. Let's delve into the personal side of this struggle and explore ten keys that have become my guiding lights in navigating and lessening these overwhelming feelings.


  1. Becoming a Dementia Expert:

  • I often found myself thinking, "I must be doing something wrong." Dementia is a complex beast, impacting memory, filters, and behaviors. My saving grace? Education. Understanding the intricacies of cognitive and emotional memory has been my compass, helping me communicate through emotions and senses instead of getting caught up in frustration of cognitive impairment.

  1. Anger and Overwhelm:

  • There were times I lost my cool, got frustrated, and let anger take over. It happens; we're human. Taking breaks, seeking support from friends, or just stepping outside for a deep breath – these have been my lifelines during those overwhelming moments.

  1. Reconciling Past and Present:

  • Caring for a parent who once cared for me brought its own set of challenges. Resentment and difficulty saying "no" were real struggles. Bringing in my siblings for support and establishing a game plan before things escalated became my strategy for navigating these emotional waters.

  1. Accepting Help:

  • Initially, I thought I could do it all alone. Spoiler alert: I couldn't. Establishing a support network early on, sharing updates with family, and letting go of the guilt associated with seeking help have been pivotal in easing the caregiving burden.

  1. Balancing "Me" Time:

  • Admitting I needed time away from caregiving felt like a guilty secret. Lunch with colleagues or a short escape became my guilt-ridden pleasure. But understanding that I needed to care for myself before my loved one helped me reconcile the guilt and see it as a necessary part of the journey.

  1. Managing Dark Thoughts:

  • Negative thoughts, harsh tones – we've all been there. Forgiving myself for not being perfect and accepting that these moments happen has been my ticket to moving forward. Self-forgiveness is the key to healing.

  1. Taking Guilt-Free Breaks:

  • Guilt over wanting personal time was a constant companion. It took a while, but I learned to see these breaks as essential for my mental well-being. A movie or lunch with friends isn't selfish; it's survival.

  1. Considering Memory Care:

  • The idea of moving my loved one to a memory care facility was laced with guilt. But reminding myself that it's about providing the best care and not a personal failure has helped me overcome that emotional hurdle.

  1. End-of-Life Guilt:

  • Watching the decline is heart-wrenching. Rituals, like writing down what my husband couldn't do anymore and letting it go at the ocean, became my way of processing the daily losses. It's okay to grieve; it's part of the healing process.

  1. Granting Myself Forgiveness:

  • I'm not perfect, and neither are you. Transforming guilt into regret and acknowledging my humanity has been liberating. I'm doing the best I can in an incredibly challenging situation, and that's enough.


Guilt in caregiving is a personal journey, unique to each of us. By sharing my experience, I hope others realize they aren't alone. Let's continue this conversation in the comments. Share your struggles, offer advice, and remind each other that imperfection is not a flaw but a testament to our shared humanity.

 

For deeper insights, inspiration, and practical caregiver interventions, delve into my latest book, "Taming the Chaos of Dementia: A Caregiver’s Guide to Interventions that Make a Difference." May it be a beacon of support on your caregiving journey.

Thank you for being a part of my blog community. Best wishes on your unique caregiving adventure—may it be filled with resilience, love, and moments of grace.


Signing off with warmth and gratitude,


Caregiver Guilt
Managing Caregiver Stress

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