Q: I have been taking care of my father for 5 months. I feel guilty because I don't want to keep him company all the time. What should I do?
A: It's normal to feel guilty for being a less-than-perfect caregiver, but of course no one can be available, physically and emotionally, 24/7. Consider bringing in extra help if you can—a trusted friend, perhaps, or relative who might be able to contribute. If that's not possible, contact your local Agency on Aging—many can connect you with people who provide respite care at a reduced cost.
And be alert for signs of caregiver stress. These include:
- Emotional signals—feelings of sadness or hopelessness, frequent crying or tearfulness, chronic anxiety, loss of interest in usual activities
- Physical symptoms—decreased energy, restlessness, gastric symptoms (like heartburn or diarrhea), headaches
- Cognitive signs—difficulty concentrating, decreased attention span, obsessing, difficulty making decisions