I always ask my audiences to shout out the emotions associated with caregiving. ‘Sad’, ‘overwhelmed’, ‘denial’, and ‘angry’ are typically the first responses. Mentioned less frequently, but perhaps even more important are ‘resentment’, ‘isolation’, and ‘burdened’. Yet, no matter where in the country I speak, the one emotion that always bubbles to the top of the list is ‘guilt’.
Two-thirds of the 75 million adults who are caring for their parents, are employed. They are truly “Stuck in the Middle” of kids, career, and parental care. It is no wonder ‘guilt’ is the number one negative emotion experienced by these caregivers. They feel guilty at work because they are distracted. Guilty when they are with Mom and Dad because they feel they should be at their own home taking care of their children and dinner, and they feel guilty at when they are at home because their parents are alone and sad. With 80% of married couples reporting that caregiving creates a negative impact on their marriage, caregivers find that all of their relationships are suffering because of the fragmented time and attention they can devote to these relationships. This leaves the caregiver feeling as though they are behind in every aspect of life.
We are overwhelmed because we are not prepared. We have too many plates in the air, and we have no time for ourselves. Is there a solution? Yes. We can become prepared, we can ask for help, and we can consider alternate arrangements. By educating yourself and taking a little time to prepare, you will be able to add some positive emotions to your list of caregiving feelings.