Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wrestling with caregiver guilt...

Some of my caregiver friends have been talking with me about the issue of caregiver guilt. It's a pretty complicated issue because there are so many dynamics involved in each person's situation. There's no pat answer that works for everyone, to be sure.

As an only child and a people-pleaser by nature, who was raised by parents who were/are mainly people-pleasers themselves, I know firsthand that guilt about not doing whatever it takes to please someone can be pretty powerful. That's especially true if that someone is one of those parents. I was caregiver for my dad in his last year and now am caregiver for my mom, so I've had my share of trouble in this area. Five years later and I'm still learning how to handle feelings of caregiver guilt, because I always feel I could have done this or that better, or handled it better.

One thing I've had to learn is how to draw boundaries that are still loving for my care-receiver while being healthy for myself and my immediate family. Drawing boundaries and learning how to say no are healthy for me and something I have to practice to be able to continue caregiving, but boy, can the guilt be overwhelming sometimes. Thankfully my husband is a pro at helping me wrestle with my demons in this area, so to speak, and I am grateful for his wisdom. He's kind, loving, and very giving, but he also has a very calm and wise way of being able to say no when necessary, not wrestle with having done so, and not feeling guilty. As a caregiver, that's something I need to achieve more often (always would be nice).

I just read a very insightful article by Carol Bradley Bursack about caregiver guilt. It was on www.AgingCare.com, a site I visit often for encouragement and to learn more about healthy caregiving. Carol's articles are some of my main go-to sources when I'm trying to figure something out about the caregiving experience, or wrestling with something at two in the morning when I should be sleeping instead. However, sleep won't come sometimes, so I surf the 'net and look for those nuggets that help me do a better job as a woman/wife/mother/grandmother/daughter/caregiver/professional person. It's part of my "online support group" routine, and it works well for me.

As a caregiver, if you're wrestling with feelings of guilt, I recommend Carol's article. I particularly appreciated her comment, "You never will do it all so well that everyone is happy." I think she has some solid advice from her own experiences, and you can tell from her stories that she's definitely worn a caregiver's shoes.

I hope this will help you. I've printed a copy for one friend who doesn't have a computer, and sent a link to a couple of others who most likely will also be reading this in the middle of the night. Hopefully they'll be able to sleep a little better afterwards.

You can read Carol's article on www.AgingCare.com: Stop_Feeling_Guilty

Hoping to help, hoping to encourage.
Blessings,
Joan
Caregiver at Home
www.CaregiverEncouragement.com

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