How to Deal with Caregiver Guilt as a Spouse

You want to do the right thing for your spouse, which means being there for them through sickness and in health.

Naturally, as you are the closest person to your spouse, it makes sense that you would become their caregiver. Being their caregiver can be rewarding but also mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting.

At times you may forget to care for yourself or feel guilty for having negative feelings about being their primary caregiver. Don’t be ashamed of these feelings. You are still your own person and need time for yourself and your health as well. 

First, go easy on yourself. You’re doing great. 

You are doing a courageous job caring for your loved one. You’re likely making many sacrifices to ensure that they are taken care of.

While it may be difficult, take some time for yourself. Self care is essential when you are caring for another person. A simple walk, yoga class, or even an hour to lounge around can make a difference for your mental health.

It can also help to join a caregiver support group and be around people who understand what you are going through. Going easy on yourself and taking breaks will decrease your odds of caregiver burnout

Remember all the good you have done for your loved one. There are going to be good days and bad days. Instead of focusing on the negatives, take a look at the big picture. Everything you have been able to do for them to keep them healthy and safe. You are doing the best you can. Just don’t forget to take a step back and do what is best for yourself also. 

Talk to your spouse about the caregiver guilt

When life gets hectic, it can be challenging to keep your marriage strong. Communication is essential, so you will need to be open and honest with your spouse about your feelings — even the negative ones. Your spouse will likely have guilt and anxiety, too. The key is finding a way to accept what is happening and get through it together. 

If you can’t discuss spousal caregiver guilt with your partner, you could become resentful, which can take away from your bond. Another problem with trying to avoid guilt is that in the end, it can make you feel more guilty and anxious. Together, you can both find a way to accept the guilt you are feeling and realize it is normal and okay, even if it is uncomfortable. 

Below are a few tips to keep your bond healthy:

  • Disengage from a fight until you both cool down. Take time to focus on compassion for the challenging situation that you both are in.
  • Discuss changes in division of labor. If your spouse is now unable to play their typical roles, together, you can discuss what they can or want to do. Help each other adapt to your new circumstances by adjusting who is responsible for what.
  • Find ways to create joy. Maybe you enjoy puzzles, card games, or watching certain television shows together. What you do together may need to change, but your quality time does not. 

Talk to your friends about it

Maintaining a social life is healthy for you and your self-esteem. Turning to your friends who are familiar with your situation could help you feel heard and supported. While it may be challenging to put yourself out there at first, in the end, it will help you feel recharged and less alone. Your friends who understand caregiving may even be able to offer you some great advice. 

Debunking common myths regarding senior living communities

To optimize both you and your spouse’s health, consider your options for professional assistance. A senior living community may be the solution you both need to support your marriage and your lives.

Your spouse may have concerns about these common myths surrounding senior living communities. At The Kensington Reston, we will show you how these simply couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Myth: I’ll lose my independence at a senior living community 

Truth: At The Kensington Reston independence and confidence are encouraged. Residents typically have more freedom than at home, as they no longer need to worry about the responsibilities, limitations, and dangers of daily life.

This gives them time to relax and enjoy activities and hobbies they may not have been able to before. Our founding principles are “Live, Work, Play, and Get Involved.” 

Myth: It will be boring. I’ll have to give up my hobbies. 

Truth: Not all assisted living communities are boring. At The Kensington Reston there is a wide range of activities and hobbies available to residents daily. Whether your loved one is interested in the arts, theater, wellness, or athletics, there will be something for them to enjoy. 

Myth: The food is plain and unappetizing. 

Truth: Meals at The Kensington Reston are nutritional and full of flavor. Our executive chef loves to change the menu, use fresh ingredients, and create delicious, well-presented meals. 

Myth: Assisted living communities are too expensive. 

Truth: At first glance, this may seem true, but typically, they are comparable or cheaper than living at home. Even with a paid-off mortgage, homeowners pay insurance, taxes, upkeep, utilities, emergency expenses, etc. at home, in addition to healthcare services. 

Myth: It will be lonely. 

Truth: It is far from lonely because you have a chance to safely interact with other residents and caretakers. Socialization and friendships are encouraged through Life Enrichment. These meaningful connections are known to decrease feelings of loneliness. 

If it makes sense for your situation, couples also have the option to live together at The Kensington, allowing you to make the move to assisted living together even if your care needs differ.

Talk to a therapist or join a support group about caregiver guilt

Being a caregiver can feel isolating and depressing at times. To protect your health and well-being, you need to care for yourself. Joining a support group is ideal because the people there will understand what you’re feeling. They will also provide you with encouragement and problem-solving strategies. Caregiver guilt is common, and connecting with other spouses who are going through similar situations will help you see that. 

At times a support group may not be enough. If you are already burned out or have kept your feelings hidden for a long time, you may need more one-on-one guidance. A therapist will help you understand your feelings, accept your emotions, and even overcome the spousal caregiver guilt you are holding onto. 

Contact us to discuss your situation

If your caregiving situation is becoming more challenging and you are considering an assisted living community for your spouse, we are here to discuss how we can help.

The Kensington Reston understands that everyone’s story is different, which is why we would like to take the time to listen to yours and assist you in making the best decision for you and your loved one. It can be difficult to make life-changing decisions alone, which is why we are here for you. 

Reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

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