Often adult children struggle with how to manage remote caregiver guilt. Guilt is an extremely common feeling when it comes to caring for an elderly parent, and while in some cases it can motivate you do be the best caregiver you can, in other instances it may immobilize you. These feelings are often amplified when you need to care for your loved one from a distance. You may constantly worry about whether you are doing, calling, and visiting enough, and your elderly parent may contribute to your negative emotions by being distressed over your absence. By following a few tips in order to better manage your guilt, you can be successful in your role as remote caregiver while prioritizing your own health and wellbeing.
Accept Your Feelings
It is important that you can recognize that feelings of guilt and inadequacy are normal. By identifying and accepting your feelings of guilt, you can prevent them from becoming a debilitating force, as you will realize that you aren’t alone in having these types of thoughts. Understand that your actions are limited due to your location, and focus on your strength as a remote caregiver.
If old wounds or bad blood exist between you and your aging parents, forgive and seek forgiveness. Unresolved issues and longstanding resentments can heighten your feelings of guilt. This is the time to get past those riffs, and keep in mind that your parents need you and that the past cannot be undone.
If you have a sibling or other family member that lives closer to your elderly parent or loved one, you may have added guilt if they are stuck with a majority of the care giving. To reduce these feelings of guilt, be supportive of the primary caregiver emotionally and financially, if possible. Don’t allow your guilt to prevent you from reaching out to the primary caregiver.
As your elderly loved one ages, he or she may become dependent on other people, and this can cause them to begin doubting their ability to care for themselves. Encourage your loved one to continue with their hobbies and connect with old friends. It is healthy for your parent or aging loved one to have a life of their own regardless of their age, so you should do what you can to encourage a certain level of independence.
Don’t Think of Care Giving as an Obligation
While we do have a certain level of obligation to care for our elderly parents and loved ones, try to have your actions come from a place of love rather than duty. Make care giving a positive experience, because if you allow it to, it can help to strengthen the relationship with your parents and your siblings. This positive mindset can help to enhance your overall well being while decreasing your feelings of guilt.
While care giving for an elderly parent is stressful regardless of the situation, doing so from a distance can heighten your feelings of guilt. By recognizing that your emotions are normal and taking steps to be the best caregiver that you can from afar, you can work to eliminate these negative sentiments. Call us for a free informative guide to remote care giving.
The Nurses at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. We are a senior care agency providing elder home care serves in the Orlando area, 407-788-9393.
Hank Charpentier, BSB, MBA, MA, Certified Senior Adviser