The Laureate Way

Articles to Help Families and Older Adults Manage the Challenges of Aging

Avoiding Guilt and Worry in Caregiving

Caregivers often face periods of guilt and worry. These times can lead to unproductive anguish, which may lead to a gradual deterioration in our health. So, how does one go about avoiding guilt and worry in caregiving?

Identify the source of the feeling

Caregivers are often feel guilty about something they did or failed to do: “Did I care enough? Did I spend enough time?” None of that psychic energy will change what happened yesterday, or a month ago. It will only serve to immobilize the caregiver.

The past is exactly that: the past

Reflecting on the past and learning from mistakes is a necessary part of growth. But rather than blaming ourselves, it might be better to ask ourselves a different set of questions:

  • Who could help me with some of this work in the future?
  • How could I divide up the responsibilities of caregiving differently?
  • What resources are available to me in my community?

Take it step by step

Caregivers sometimes worry about what the future holds, asking, “How will care needs change?” and “Will I be able to adapt?” Again, these worries drain us of energy. 

We know that care needs will gradually increase.  Planning for this is prudent. Caregivers should talk with the person for whom they provide care. Be honest and realistic about what you are able to do, then together you can plan how to cover the needs that will likely arise. Take it step by step. Remember, the person for whom you care, cares about you, too. They want you to be happy and healthy as well!

In the book, Your Erroneous Zones, Wayne Dyer, PhD explains that neither guilt nor worry will actually lead to anything constructive. But they will take a toll on our health. Do your best to avoid feelings of guilt about the past and worries about the future. Focus instead on the present. Enjoy the moments that you spend with your loved one here and now, sharing stories, smiles and comfort.