How to Overcome the Guilt of Utilizing Respite Care

Overcoming Guilt

Caregiver guilt is one of the unfortunate by-products of devoted adult children or spouses assuming the role of primary caregiver for a loved one who needs their continuing help.

Understanding the Common Feeling of Caregiver Guilt

As explained in the article, “Taking Care of You – Dealing with Caregiver Guilt,” you may feel frustrated and angry at your chaotic life as a caregiver – or your lack of control. Anger often evolves into guilt. You may feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, and have the guilty thought, ‘how much longer can this go on?’ But understand, feelings can’t be denied. They can, however, be changed to some degree by adjusting your perspective. 

Says Colleen Dwyer, Executive Director of Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA, “First, it is essential for all caregivers to understand that feelings of guilt are perfectly normal. Today, caregivers are often pulled in multiple directions with responsibilities for home, family and work in addition to their caregiving duties. Frequently, they feel guilt stemming from feelings that they are not doing any of their jobs well.  

“Add to that the healthy human desire for personal time and the opportunity to do things we enjoy. While the need for personal fulfillment is in no way selfish, it can also create a sense of guilt,” adds Colleen.

Although understandable, caregiver guilt can be highly counterproductive when it comes to providing your loved one with quality care. Only when caregivers are physically and emotionally healthy themselves can they give the best care.

Why Respite Care is Good for Both of You!

Described as a “life saver” by many caregivers, respite care is an ideal worry-free solution for those times you just need a breather or won’t be available to provide care – as in the case of vacations, business trips or other obligations.

Respite care offers essential lifestyle benefits to both family caregivers and their loved ones. Caregivers receive some much-needed down time to rest, regenerate and enjoy the activities they love. Loved ones benefit from the loving care and support provided within a nurturing environment as well as life-enriching daily activities, nutritious meals, the companionship of peers with similar life experiences and a variety of on-site amenities.

Respite care provides busy caregivers with needed time to refresh and revitalize so they can provide the best care to their loved one.

Overcoming Unnecessary Respite Care Guilt

Colleen adds, “Despite respite care’s value as a worry-free solution, some caregivers sometimes still feel guilty about using it. Sadly, this type of guilt can be harmful to both the caregiver and their loved one. 

“Fortunately, there are helpful steps you can take to reduce the guilt and enjoy the benefits that respite care offers to all concerned. Senior care specialists say that familiarity, confidence and communications are often at the heart of reducing caregiver guilt and making respite care a trusted option in your caregiving resources.”

Ways to reduce respite care guilt include:

  • Meet with respite care providers – By talking with the respite care staff, taking a tour of the location and learning about the services provided, you can relieve your uneasiness and build confidence in using the services when needed.
  • Involve your loved one in respite care discussions – You can eliminate much of your guilt about using respite care by involving your loved one right from the start. Calmly discuss your personal needs for some time off and explain how respite care works.

    Share a brochure or other information about respite care with your loved one and emphasize that their safety, comfort and care are your top priorities. Visit a respite care provider with your loved one and have lunch there with a staff member who can answer questions and put both of you at ease. 
  • Stay connected when using respite care – You can check in frequently by phone when your loved one is in respite care to allay your fears and reduce any feelings of guilt. And if there are any concerns, a member of the care team will always be happy to address them for you. Sometimes, any change can take some getting used to for older adults, but experience shows that most enjoy the change of scenery, fun activities and new friends that a respite stay offers.

“Rather than feeling guilty about using respite care,” says Colleen, “you can be confident that it is a safe, high-quality resource for your loved one’s care and a helpful way to maintain your own health so you can always be the caregiver you strive to be.”

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated Best in Senior Care.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on overcoming the guilt of using respite care, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, independent living, personal care, memory care, restorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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