Guilt is a very common emotion when you’re looking after a loved one. Your own guilt may be because you don’t feel good enough at your caring responsibilities.
Perhaps you feel guilty for not wanting help or you just need a break. It’s possible you feel angry and resentful towards your loved one because of the toll caring is taking on you.
Maybe you had other plans before the dementia diagnosis and you never expected to be in this position right now. Or juggling young family members’ needs with those of your older parent is too much to handle – Where’s the space for you in all of this?
Guilt is completely normal. The last thing you need is to feel guilty about that too!
Here are a few things you should know about carer guilt.
Guilt is experienced by every carer
You’re not alone! It may look as though everyone else has it sussed, but the truth is that, in secret, other carers are feeling the same way as you.
However, as much they do, it probably never feels like enough. There is an infinite number of items you can add to your to-do list, but frankly, you’re only one person, and you need rest sometimes.
It’s okay to get help from another person
You don’t have to do everything – As a carer, you’re entitled to an assessment from social services to highlight any help you need. You can get care assistants to come to your home to administer medication, deliver personal care or offer companionship.
You could also think about any other members of your family who may pop in and help you from time to time. Perhaps they can go to the shop and pick up groceries, or they can stay with your loved one while you get your hair done. It shouldn’t all be left to one person.
It’s fine to take a break for an hour, a day, even a week
There are plenty of respite facilities that will enable you to take a break. It could be overnight accommodation if you need to go away or somewhere like the Me2U Centre, which offers full-day or half-day respite if you simply need to attend a medical appointment or visit a friend for a few hours.
Lots of our clients’ families enjoy a little me-time to read a book, get a manicure or just catch up on some sleep.
Your health is important too
Carers are guilty of putting themselves second, but your health needs to be maintained too, otherwise, you’ll fall sick. Stress plays havoc with your physical health as well as mental health, so it’s essential to find activities that relax you, such as a yoga class, a walk in the park, writing a journal or watching a TV show you enjoy.
You’re not just a carer
It’s easy to lose sight of what you enjoy when the majority of your waking hours are centred around somebody else. Therefore, you need to keep reminders of who you are, what you love and the things you’re good at.
- Write a list of the things you’re good at and put it near your mirror
- Create a display of all your amazing achievements in your living space
- Put photos around the house of you during happy times so you remember the moments you’ve felt amazing
You deserve a hobby
Have you got a special project or a language you want to learn? Find something you’d love to do, old or new, and dedicate 20 minutes a day to your activity. Be completely selfish. Even five minutes on Duolingo each day can result in great gains, and this will improve your confidence. Try it. Don’t for one second feel guilty – You’ve earned this!
You’re doing a great job
People don’t tell you this because they see how competent you are and forget that we all need a pat on the back once in a while. Take this as Me2U, the experts in dementia care, officially giving you our “Amazing Carer” badge. You’ve got this!
If you need some help, advice, support or a little time off, we’ve got you covered. Call Rosie and the team for a friendly chat.