February 10, 2015

caregiver guiltIf you’ve ever cared for a child or had one of your own, you know that one of the many frustrations of teaching children is the need to repeat yourself over and over again. It’s also frustrating when children do things without giving thought to the consequences of their actions. Many parents and teachers have found themselves exasperated by the actions of those under their care and guidance.

The same can be said of those who care for older adults with dementia. It truly is challenging to be asked the same question again and again, only to provide the same answer over and over throughout the course of a day. It’s also challenging to watch adults who used to have command over their own lives display poor safety awareness and seeming disregard for their own limitations. A person with dementia might leave the stove on, open the door for a stranger, or attempt to go down a stairwell unassisted. He also might not remember simple tasks like how to fasten a seatbelt or to use a utensil the correct way. All of this can be frustrating to watch and manage, and sometimes your frustration might inadvertently show.

As a caregiver, you want to be patient all of the time, but it is unrealistic to think that you will never get frustrated. Afterward, you might feel guilty because you know it wasn’t your loved one’s intent to make you angry. If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it is because you love him and you want the best for him, but you will have moments of aggravation. Learning more about the progression of the disease and getting support from others is a way to take care of both you and the person you care for at the same time. It will remind you why you are caring for him, how rewarding it can be, and let you share your story with others.

Guilt is an unfortunate and emotionally taxing part of caring for a loved one with dementia. It is also completely normal to experience feelings of frustration and guilt as a caregiver. This video, from dementia care expert Dr. Peter Rabins, provides some valuable insight into the role of the caregiver, and shares important advice about overcoming guilt and developing realistic caregiving expectations.

The more prepared you are, the better. Continuum strongly believes that family caregiver education is vital when it comes to providing in-home dementia care. We train family caregivers in successful communication techniques, and provide professional respite care services so that family caregivers can take time away to care for themselves.

Contact us today to learn more about our St. Charles and St. Louis County elder care services, or browse our Alzheimer’s resource page for additional tools.