Caregivers: How to Cope with Guilt

Caring for people with dementia can bring out the best and the worst in the human personality. Compassion, concern and loyalty are just a few of the characteristics of those who are caregivers. At the same time, caregivers experience great frustration, anger, depression and guilt in response to the stress of caring for those with this chronic illness. Persistent guilt can become a crippling problem for caregivers. It usually stems from unrealistic expectations of one self. Despite unbearable conditions, some caregivers believe that they can handle any problem that comes their way. Instead of freely choosing their challenges, they become caught in the trap of thinking that they should be able to meet all of the needs all of the time.

When guilt becomes a dominant motive in caregiving, help is clearly indicated.

Here are some recommended “Guilt Busters.”
1. Acknowledge that you are in a no win situation; the disease will worsen despite your best efforts.
2. Set realistic goals; take pride in offering care and comfort when you can’t offer a cure.
3. Accept your shortcomings; perfectionist are bound to be disappointed.
4. Find your sense of humor and hang on to it; laughter is good medicine.
5. Get some physical exercise. It’s proven to reduce stress.
6. Share your thoughts and feelings with a friend. Don’t go it alone.
7. Take a break and enlist someone to assist you on a regular basis.
8. Remember that persons with dementia need an emotionally healthy caregiver so take care of yourself as well as you can.