Podcast: Caregiver Guilt: How To Cope

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Podcast: Caregiver Guilt: How To Cope

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For the past 16 years, I have had the honor of helping caregivers dealing with an aging parent or an ill spouse. Although no two caregivers are alike, in my 16 years talking to caregivers and assisting them, they all share one trait: at some point in their caregiving journey, they all feel guilty about something.

I certainly have not escaped this emotion. Far from, it, I carry it on so many levels. For the past 6 years, I carry the guilt that I could have done something different to save my father. The night before he went to the hospital and was put on the ventilator that he never woke up from I was with him in his apartment. Although he was showing no symptoms of any illness, in my mind I believe I should have known something was wrong and brought him to the hospital. I re-live this night before scenario so often and wrack my brain for clues I missed. On a rational level, I know this is false, but it's hard to for me to think about this rationally.

My father died in November and my mother moved in with me the following May. Although I know on a rational level I am providing the best care for her that I can, I often feel bad that I'm not doing more with her to keep her engaged or doing things better. Oh - hello again guilt.

This week on my podcast "On The Frontlines of Caregiving" I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Julie Davelman. Dr. Davelman is a psychologist who provides counseling at Abrams Psychological Services. Dr. Davelman spoke about the overlap of caregiver guilt and feelings of shame. She also gave me insight into my feelings about my dad's death and let me know that this is actually called "magical thinking."

Dr. Davelman gave concrete steps to help deal with caregiver guilt. Clearly, they are going to arise. If we as caregivers learn to manage these feelings, I believe our lives will be much less stressful.  I hope you gain some insight from my interview and it helps to ease any guilt you may be experiencing.

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