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The caregiver’s role
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Managing guilt

Have you ever felt guilt in your role as a caregiver? Know that most caregivers experience this normal feeling to some extent at some point in their journey. However, it is best when it is not too significant in your daily life because it could add to your mental stress.

Feeling guilty can happen when you don’t do a requested task immediately or when you don’t visit your loved one as often as they would like. It can also happen when you make the decision to delegate certain tasks, think about placing your loved one in a care facility or when you can no longer keep a promise. In fact, the feeling of guilt arises when we feel responsible for a wrongful act or when there is misalignment between our behaviour and our values. This feeling can lead to exhaustion, depression and ultimately, you might no longer want to play this role.


Acknowledging the feeling of guilt

Feeling guilty can be a leverage for change or lead to adverse effects. The first step in reducing this feeling of guilt is to recognize it and explore what created it. For example, is it something you did, postponed or didn’t do? By paying attention to what is causing this guilt, you will be able to identify your values and act on them. Once you recognize it, it is helpful to ask yourself questions, so you can understand it better and thus make any desired change.

 

Making a change

How do you find a nice balance between your own needs and those of your loved one? Take the time to weigh pros and cons before making decisions. You might also find it helpful to examine actions taken in the past to reduce your feelings of guilt. If they had a positive impact on you, your feelings or your perception, they could serve as a reference and guide you in your change toward this feeling.

 

Practical example

You don’t answer the phone when you know that the person you look after is calling you. You feel guilty. Upon closer examination of your behaviour, you did not answer because you were busy with housework and you wanted to finish it before leaving for your appointment, to give yourself peace of mind. However, you are concerned and wonder if your loved one is okay. You decide to call them when you get back. The next day, the same thing happens, and you cannot answer the call. The guilt comes back. Since you do not want to continually go through this situation, you decide to address the situation with your loved one. You remember that in the past you asked your children to leave messages and that this had helped reduce your stress level and guilt. You decide to put this change into practice in your caregiver role. When you are busy, it would be better for your loved one to leave a message on your voicemail. You can then determine whether you need to call your loved one back right away in the event of a problem.

 

You can participate in themed workshops, talks and support groups, or consult a psychosocial support worker for support.

Do not hesitate to contact our team of counsellors for caregivers of seniors, by phone at 1-855-852-7784 or by email at [email protected], for support or referrals.


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