Elderly Parents Care and Dealing with Guilt

Elderly Parents and Dealing with Guilt

We feel an enormous weight of guilt and sometimes even a sense of failure for our inability to care for aging parents.

Guilt, helplessness, and the pain of realizing that you may not longer be suited, or able, to give your elderly parent what he or she needs is an enormous burden for any child to feel (regardless of age), and it will take time and a lot of patience – with yourself – to be able to deal with such feelings about parents care.

Coming to a decision that your parent may need more specialized care and time than you are able to provide is not easy. When assessing the need for more specialized elderly care for your parent, you may need to take the following issues under consideration:

  • Do I have the time to adequately care for my elderly parent's needs?
  • Am I able to continue to provide my parent with a safe living environment?
  • Is my parent suffering from a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer's?
  • Am I able to help my aging parent with mobility issues?

However, any such decision often brings with it a heavy toll such as feeling like:

  • I'm not doing enough
  • I'm not doing things right
  • I should have done more… better…. somehow
  • My elderly parent is too much of a burden for me
Caregiver Guilt and Anger
  • I'm so tired!
  • I just want my 'old' life back!
  • I'm inadequate, ill-equipped or emotionally weak

Dealing with Anger and Resentment

Many caregivers feel guilty about their feelings of anger or resentment that they are the ones left to manage elderly care or supervise an aging parent.

Find a positive avenue to vent your feelings. Ask yourself what you would do to change the things that you are so angry or resentful about.

If you're resentful that you no longer have a life of your own because you spend every spare minute caring for your elderly parents, find ways to help you get back some of that private time.

If anger or resentment overwhelms you on a daily basis, talk to someone; a friend, family member or even a therapist. Left unattended, anger can lead to explosive outbursts that you may regret or lead to abusive situations or temptations.

Caregiver Guilt and Anger

Find the Positives

When you start feeling overwhelmed and perhaps inadequate, remember the things that you are doing for your elderly parent. Make a list of the types of things you do for your parent – emotional support, financial advice and support, physical support and whatever else you are doing.

Be willing to recognize that we are all human. Some of us are better suited toward care giving and empathy than others. Do what you can to help and don't beat yourself up for everything you don't do. If it really bothers you, ask yourself what you can do to change things or to provide more help.

Seven Positive Ways to Deal with Negative Emotions

Anger, depression, guilt and dissatisfaction may eventually lead to health and emotional problems for caregivers such as weight loss or gain, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure and more. Try these methods to help gain perspective on your daily life or to help relieve the stress and pressures of caregiving, especially when you're feeling guilty about your feelings.

  • Slow down – Take a moment to "stop and smell the roses" – even if it's for only a moment. Take five minutes for yourself when you need it.
  • Talk to a friend – One of the best ways to get something off your chest is to talk to someone about it. Get on the phone. Arrange a visit with a friend and talk about your feelings. It's okay. You're allowed.
  • Set aside time 'to worry' – Don't spend all day and all night worrying about things you can't change. Instead, make it a point to spend an allotted amount of time every day to address and deal with worries.
  • Laugh every day – Find something to smile and laugh about every day. Whether it's the antics of your kids, a good joke, a memory, or the birds in your backyard, find something to laugh about.
  • Avoid Regrets – Sure, we all could have done things differently at one time or another, but stay in the here and now. Look at the positive side of things.
  • Make Time for Yourself – Whether it's a nighttime bath, a workout or a movie, take time for yourself every day.
  • Don't waste time feeling guilty – face it – you're human. You will feel anger and resentment over your situation from time to time. Address your feelings, recognize them, do what you can about it, and then move on.

Confronting Your Future

You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone next week, next month or next year.

If you're feeling guilty or inadequate, and personal steps to alleviate such feelings don't help, seek the help of a professional to assist you in finding ways to deal with the situation.

Don't wait until you're so stressed you're getting sick or endangering other family relationships. Don't hide from feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Confronting such feelings is the only way to successfully deal with them.

Talking with Mom and Dad


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