Healthy Living

Caregivers: Stop Feeling Guilty

Caregivers: Stop Feeling Guilty

When someone is diagnosed with a life-altering disease or disorder like Alzheimer's, the role of caregiver often falls into the lap of a loved one. For that person, being a caregiver often means much more than providing physical help to their family member or close friend, it also means providing emotional support.  Sometimes that means having to deal with a wide range of feelings, from having a sense of fulfillment to experiencing the debilitating feelings of guilt, grief, and anger.

Those emotions need to be dealt with otherwise they can become detrimental to the caregiver’s ability to provide support. Negative emotions can also result in a damaged relationship between the caregiver and the patient. Those icky feelings can also cause the caregiver to become physically ill from the amount of guilt and anger that they could be feeling. Stress can manifest itself in various ways, whether it be from a migraine to an ulcer, and it can also impact one’s immunity making it more difficult to fight off viruses.

It’s important to note that while many of the emotions that are felt by caregivers are similar from one person to another,  the way they manifest themselves or even how fast they start to take a toll on the caregiver is different for everyone. There are so many factors that come into play when dealing with the emotions of being a caregiver. From resilience to the relationship and history between the patient and caregiver, to the severity of the patient’s illness, all of these can take a toll on a caregiver’s emotional state.

Regardless of the type of relationship they have, or the role the caregiver plays in the patient’s life, the most important tool that a caregiver can have is enough knowledge to ensure the amount of care and support that their loved ones need.  All of these emotions that a caregiver may feel are perfectly normal, but sometimes it can be hard for caregivers to remember that. 

Resentment leading to anger

It’s not easy being a caregiver. There are times that these feelings of being trapped in a life that was not the first choice can bubble up to the surface and come out in anger. When that happens, even a minor incident can result in that short fuse going off, leading to unkind words being said by both parties.

Feeling anger and resentment is normal and more often than not, part of the process of being a caregiver.  If anger feels like it might surface while caring for someone, take a deep breath, count to 10 and if it’s possible, walk away for just a few minutes.  By taking a few minutes to put a few things in perspective, it’s easy to calm those angry emotions down and focus on what needs to be done for the patient.