The 7 Deadly Emotions of Caregiving

Caring for an ailing loved one creates overwhelming emotions. Before succumbing to such feelings that my harm you and the person you are caring for, reach out for help in your area. Visit us at Advocare to learn more about how a Geriatric Care Manager can assist with coordinating help for you loved one, including in-home care that can provide the respite you need. For more information about Geriatric Care Management in South Florida, visit us at

The 7 Deadly Emotions of Caregiving
How guilt, resentment, and other powerful caregiver feelings can raise your stress and sap your energy — and what you can do to avoid the damage.

Nobody would ever choose a smiley face as the perfect symbolic emoticon for a caregiver. Caregiving for an ailing loved one is just too stressful — often triggering damaging emotions that can not only undermine your good work but harm your health, as well. Here’s how to cope:

Caregiver emotion trap #1: Guilt

Guilt is virtually unavoidable as you try to “do it all.”

What causes guilt: Guilt stems from doing or saying what you believe is the wrong thing, not doing what you perceive to be enough, or otherwise not behaving in the “right” way, whether or not your perceptions are accurate. Caregivers often burden themselves with a long list of self-imposed “oughts,” “shoulds,” and “musts.” A few examples: I must avoid putting Mom in a nursing home. I ought to visit every day. I shouldn’t lose my temper with someone who has dementia.

Risks of guilt: Caregiver guilt is an especially corrosive emotion because you’re beating yourself up over faults that are imagined, unavoidable — or simply human. That’s counterproductive at a time when you need to be your own best advocate.

What you can do: Lower your standards from ideal to real; aim for a B+ in the many aspects of your life rather than an across-the-board A+. When guilt nags, ask yourself what’s triggering it: A rigid “ought”? An unrealistic belief about your abilities? Above all, recognize that guilt is virtually unavoidable. Because your intentions are good but your time, resources, and skills are limited, you’re just plain going to feel guilty sometimes — so try to get comfortable with that gap between perfection and reality instead of beating yourself up over it.

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