This post, discussing the role of the community caregiver and how that helps manage home caregiver guilt, is part of a series exploring the different questions that come up when searching for senior living solutions. Follow along in our “What is Senior Living?” series to learn more about the ins and outs of senior living.
“Not only did they take good care of [mom], but my dad and I also felt cared for as we dealt with the stress and grief that comes with loving someone with dementia.” -Diana, Facebook Review for Farmington Square Salem
“A great weight has been removed from my shoulders, and I sleep without worry. I am so happy that my mom in her aging brain and body, can be comfortable, well fed, safe and stimulated by varied activities…(continued) “- Sarah, Senior Adviser Review for Farmington Square Gresham
“I know every day is a new day with dementia and we never know what we are going to be dealing with, and I feel New Dawn is there not only for my dad, but for me. I’m so grateful to have my dad in such a good place physically, mentally and emotionally.” – Lori, Google Review for New Dawn Aurora
These are just a few of the comments we have heard and read from family members about the relief that they experience when they are able to feel comfortable in the knowledge that their loved ones are in safe and caring hands. In the first days of considering senior care, the process of decision making, and the initial move into a community care setting, many of the same people were dealing with caregiver guilt.
Connect with a Radiant Senior Living community near you to schedule your personalized tour and see how we can help take the weight off your shoulders.
What is Caregiver Guilt?
Guilt can stem from a variety of reasons, however caregiver guilt in particular typically originates with a person’s expectations of what “should” be done for a loved one and the person’s inability to live up to those expectations. For instance, a loved one may believe that it is their role to take care of an ailing friend or kin, but obstacles such as work, children, or medical needs block the ability to physically provide the care needed.
Caregiver guilt is very common. It is often combined with feelings of anger or sadness. Caregiver guilt is usually followed by Compassion Fatigue or burnout. It can even cause resentment, feelings of loss, anxiety, stress, or depression. These feelings can in turn cause the care of a loved one to be lessened and thereby increase overall feelings of guilt. It can be a dangerous cycle.
Managing Caregiver Guilt
The first step of managing caregiver guilt is to recognize that it is a common emotion. Understand that the emotion of guilt—or feelings that may accompany guilt such as resentment, anger, burnout, etc.— does not mean you are inadequate. Be as compassionate to yourself as you are to your loved one.
Other ways you can manage caregiver guilt is to find the underlying cause of the feeling of guilt. Are you stretched too thin and can’t get everything done? Does your loved one need more care than you are able to provide? Do you miss being a child, friend, or spouse to your loved one rather than a caretaker? Do you just need a break? Any of these reasons could lead to feelings of guilt for caregivers. Exploring solutions to these issues will help you manage the guilt you may be feeling.
Care communities, and their caregivers, may help you in finding solutions to your situation and decreasing the initial causes of caregiver guilt. Below are three ways that care communities may help with avoiding compassion fatigue.
1. Providing a Respite
Sometimes, the solution to caregiver guilt is just taking a much-needed, and much-deserved, break. Respite care is provided when caregivers need a short break all while knowing that their loved one is getting needed care and attention. Respite Care at a Radiant Senior Living community is designed to provide seniors a safe, supportive environment where their personal and health needs can be met by a skillful staff that is dedicated to caring for the needs of older adults.
Respite Care is a good option for home caregivers who are not having issues providing the amount or type of care needed, but who may need a vacation, time to deal with home needs, or time to focus on their own health and well-being for a short period. Typically, respite care is based on a care community’s availability and ability to meet care needs on a short-term basis.
Connecting with a local care community and being in communication with them about your loved one’s needs is the first step in finding respite stay availability.
2. Allow Loved One to Get Needed Care, Engagement, and Attention
“Just because you find out you can’t care for your loved one, it doesn’t mean you don’t care. Honestly, it means you care enough to do what’s best.”
When care needs become too much or engagement needs are not being met—if compassion fatigue hits or a caregiver simply needs to put themselves or situations first—then making the decision to share those care tasks with a care community may be the absolute best solution for a loved one.
Making the decision to move to a care community is not always an easy decision. Seeing a loved one thriving in a new situation, knowing that their care needs are being met, may help mitigate feelings of guilt. It may also allow a loved one to go back to their former role as spouse, family, friend, or child and enjoy their time with their loved one.
3. Being Partners in Care
One of the fears often brought up regarding senior living is the fear of losing the ability to help make care decisions for a loved one. Many home caregivers know a loved one’s desires and preferences. However, after moving in, many families realize that their new role in the care of their loved one is a much more sustainable and rewarding role. Care communities and resident loved ones have the ability to partner in care and advocacy!
Being able to provide a more fulfilling role as advocate and friend allows for loved ones to feel that they are helping to provide the best care for their loved one, without the feelings of guilt of not filling the role of child, spouse, family, or friend.
How has a care community helped you mitigate guilt in your life? Do you have other tips on decreasing caregiver guilt or avoiding compassion fatigue?
We’d love to know your tips! Share in the comments below or share with us on your favorite social media site.