Guilt is a complicated emotion, especially in the context of an adult experiencing caregiver guilt over their elderly parent or parents. Here at Lexington Square, we speak with the families of residents all the time and discover just how much of this guilt people carry around with them. Like any negative emotion, this sort of baggage can affect not only an individual’s life but also the lives of the people in their immediate social and familial circles.
In other words, it is not ideal to harbor this type of guilt, in large part because the reasons for it often exist entirely in the sufferer’s own mind.
What Causes Caregiver Guilt?
There are so many different ways this guilt can manifest itself. For example, it is not uncommon for people to feel some measure of resentment for the loss of their personal lives, which switches away from friends and social lives and steers toward taking care of an elderly parent. Other times, that guilt may occur following placement in an assisted living community, particularly if this is something the parent does not want.
Sometimes, there are unresolved issues from childhood that cause problems throughout the caregiving process, but even when there aren’t, people can’t help but compare the care they’re giving to their own parents to the care they see other seniors receiving.
How to Cope with Caregiver Guilt
Assisted living is supposed to help this process, but it also can cause the caregiver guilt. Thankfully, there are a few ways to cope with it:
Acknowledge Your Guilt
This first, most important step in overcoming your caregiver guilt is to acknowledge that it exists and accept the fact that you feel that way. Like all emotions, guilt is perfectly normal, so accept that the feeling is there, experience it when you need to, but then let it go and try to move forward from it.
Make Time for Yourself
If some of this guilt stems from overexerting yourself to take care of your parents at the expense of your personal life, try to carve out some time for yourself once in a while. You are more than a caregiver, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
Don’t bottle up your guilt, keeping it all to yourself. There’s a good chance you have other family members or friends who feel the same way. Talking through this complicated feeling with people you trust is a great way to discover empathy from others and move past the worst aspects of caregiver guilt.
Trust That You’ve Made the Right Decision
It it never easy to come to the decision to place an elderly parent into a senior living community, but if that is the care your parent needs, then there’s no point in wallowing in guilt over the decision. The alternative is putting those elderly parents in danger by continuing to let them live alone. Sometimes, a community like Lexington Square really is the best option, and we’ll do everything we can to help put you at ease about you and your parent’s decision to live here.