Deal With Caregiver Stress – What You Need to Know About Handling Guilt, Frustration and Anger

Overcome caregiver stress by putting strategies into place. Tips for dealing with guilt, frustration and anger start with identifying the expectations you have for yourself as a caregiver.

Caregivers have a tendency to try to do everything themselves. Some individuals become overprotective or believe that their “caring” and attention is all that the aging senior requires. No one will provide care as well as they do.

Many caregivers today are taking care of their own family, as well as their aging parents or an aging relative. It is important for many caregivers to realize and accept the fact that not only are they human, they are imperfect beings. That means, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard they plan, there are moments in life when things happen. No one person can ever meet every need of another human being. It is just not possible.

It takes many individuals to support an aging senior in the home. And it should. There should always be a back up person or persons in place that can provide care should the primary caregiver become unable to provide support. There is another reason that there should be a back up system. The primary caregiver needs and must have regular time away from their care giving duties to take care of themselves.

A person caring for another individual has needs too. The daily commitment without a break leads to chronic stress, frustration, guilt and resentment. These negative emotions affect the physical health of the caregiver. Time way from responsibilities and duties of the daily grind can rejuvenate and refresh the spirit. It gives and individual the energy to continue on with their care giving role.

Having a family meeting with all family members and the aging senior is very important to avoid or to deal with guilt.

It is important to make all involved aware that there are limits to what you are capable of doing. Assign tasks and responsibilities to others. Set limits with times you can take and return phone calls and emails. Ask family members that are not willing to assist with any of their time to assist financially.

Overcome Caregiver Stress. Tips for Dealing with Guilt, Frustration and Anger

Positive self talk goes along way in dealing with how you feel and respond. Instead of thinking about all the things that you think went wrong or seeing the negative, look at things from a positive perspective. It will take some work, but give yourself credit for things you do. Pat yourself on the back; tell yourself you are doing the best you know how to do. Acknowledge that you are learning something new everyday about yourself, that you have taken on a difficult challenge and you are making a difference.

Rephrase things from “I should” or “I must” to “I choose to” or “I need to.”¬†Phrasing things in a more positive light takes away the guilt.

Consider this scenario:

“I should take time for myself. I must take better care of myself” versus “I choose to take time for myself because I need to take care of myself.” The change in wording can alleviate negative feelings such as guilt or inadequacy.

Take time to find laughter and humor in everyday. You should laugh often. It is a great stress reliever and also boosts the spirits. Find things that you enjoy and allowing yourself time and the pleasure to enjoy them will decrease feelings of stress and guilt.

It is also important that when you are experiencing negative feelings, such as guilt, resentment and frustration to realize what you are feeling. If you identify the feeling, try to identify what caused that feeling to present itself. Emotions and feelings are reactions and responses that are not rational. If you can identify what is going on and causing you to feel this negative emotion, then you can work at changing either the behavior that has caused the feeling or the intensity of the response.

For example, you feel guilty about feeling resentment and anger at a friend that is planning a trip or just an evening out. You have obligations and multiple responsibilities. You could never allow yourself to go out and enjoy because you have too much to do.

Let’s look at that scenario. You feel guilty about negative feelings you are having toward a friend. You identify that you feel responsible to take care of everyone and everything. You realize you are overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed. You can change this scenario. You can and should take time for yourself.

You can overcome caregiver stress by starting to take care of yourself. Take the tips for dealing with guilt, frustration and anger and put some of them into practice. For some caregivers it will have to be baby steps to giving up their responsibilities. Their own health depends upon it.

Diane Carbo, Registered Nurse, has more than thirty five years in the nursing field. Her experience as a geriatric care manager, makes her uniquely qualified to help those who want to live out their lives in their own homes. That decision may be made when you are 20, 30, 40 or in fact at any age, with sooner rather than later being ideal. Diane has developed a web site to make people aware of issues and options. You will find extensive helpful information that will be continually updated. Please visit Diane’s web site and learn more about managing caregiver stress. Sign up for “The Caring Advocate” her free newsletter and take advantage of a complimentary e-course “Advocating For Yourself and Others”.

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
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