I read many posts where a caregiver feels guilty about what they've done or not done with respect to their LOs` care. The feeling of guilt is often associated with the commission of an illegal act. But many guilt feelings have nothing to do with illegal acts, but instead are about what a caregiver did or didn't do in caring for their LO.

Whether caring for your parents, your spouse, or another LO, you may feel guilt if -
You were a difficult child
You mistreated your LO before their diagnosis
You wished your LO died
You placed your LO in a care facility
You wanted time apart from your LO
You got angry with LO
You feel guilty for what you should have done, or what you didn't do.
Etc., etc.

None of these are illegal “should have” or “shouldn't have” feelings, but they are feelings of guilt, nevertheless. Often the feelings of guilt are part of the grieving process. The two can co-exist. But one can grieve w/o guilt. One can also feel guilt outside of the grieving process. Guilt can be overcome, and grieving can be more difficult and last longer but can also be worked through. All of the above feelings I mention above don't have to result in guilt.

Realizing there is no playbook for dementia care, and that you're doing your best, can help fight off the guilt trips. Although there are many resources that can help manage the caregiving experience, no two experiences are alike, so it's mostly a matter of on the job learning. Videos of Teepa Snow, books like The 36 Hour Day, Surviving Alzheimer's, and Learning to speak Alzheimer's, can be very helpful but may not apply to your situation. You may have to “figure it out”. Dr. Peter Rabins, coauthor of the 36 Hour Day, offers ways to prevent guilt in caring for a LO. Visit this link to Alzheimers Weekly:

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dear stiggy,

hug!! :)
please don't feel guilty--
if anything, your siblings should feel guilty--
and if things were distributed more evenly, you wouldn't be feeling all these "guilty" feelings...

you would deal with X, your siblings with Y and Z.
you would do a great job with X, feel great about it, and have energy/motivation to go ahead with your own dreams/goals/life.

you have 4 guilty siblings.
and they're also guilty of making you go through all these bad emotions.

(i have 3 guilty siblings.)

hug!!!! :)
make sure you can live your life too!!

I feel guilty because I keep wanting to reason with my mother with dementia. I logically know that she cannot be reasoned with, but when I’m dealing with her ripping up her Depends, or getting her poop everywhere, or turning off her heat then complaining she’s cold, or when she is calling for me over and over while I’m working, (I work from home, so I can be with her) only to have her tell me something totally nonsensical, I end up trying, yet again, to reason with her. Then I kick myself for even trying or losing my patience. I feel guilty because I resent caring for her. I have 4 siblings, but they refuse to help. Then I feel guilty because I did agree to let her live with me. I feel guilty that I don’t like the person my mother’s dementia has made her become. I feel guilty because I just want a moment where she sees everything I’m doing for her. But I know she doesn’t have a clue what I’ve done for her for 3 years. I’ve only been away from her for a total of 2 weeks in all that time. Then I feel guilty that I can’t just suck it up and stay calm and know this won’t be forever. But it feels like forever. And then I feel guilty about that. So far, my whole experience has been just one guilty moment after another. I’m exhausted, but every night, I give myself a pep talk and tell myself I will do better tomorrow. And I keep going.

“No guilt, because I've always tried my best. Just a lot of wishes.”

What a great post LavenderBear. Although the past hasn't turned out the way you wished, you have a wonderful perspective and acceptance of reality without having to feel guilty about what could have been. Thanks for your comment. I hope all your future wishes come true.

No, but I have wishes. Many wishes. Wished my parents had invested money while they were working so my Mom would be able to be in a nice Assisted Living facility or Senior Apartment.

Wished I had earned more money so I could help better and hire Home Care to give me days off.

Wished I had money in the bank to buy me a week of respite care.
Wished I had a brother or sister to talk to about this and help me work things out better in my mind.
So many wishes ...

No guilt, because I've always tried my best. Just a lot of wishes.

Guilt says "I did something wrong".

Most of us are trying to navigate the CG system with not a lot of help...and we feel 'guilty' b/c our LO is getting older and more frail right in front of our eyes. Maybe we feel 'guilt' b/c we finally realize that we're never going to have the relationship with them we'd wanted. That we cannot make them 'happy'.

'Guilt' implies we did something that was a planned, vengeful act in some way. We do the best we can...and sometimes we hit the ball out of the park and sometimes, we strike out. Let's not focus solely on the strikes.

I'm at a stage in life with my MIL where I simply cannot be anywhere near her and avoid all social situations where she may be. She cannot keep her vile comments about me to herself. It's embarassing for me and for the extended family, who don't 'get it'. I have a very controlled relationship with my own mother, who doesn't really even acknowledge my existence. What did I do to deserve this?

Absolutely nothing.

At age 65, I'm so tired of trying to adapt MY behaviors to placate these 2 difficult women. And to not have any 'guilt' when they pass b/c a lifetime of trying to be the 'best' for them failed.

Just read this, this morning. "Guilt is wasteful energy. As is anxiety, which can be ramped up by feelings of guilt" (sorry, i think I botched that paraphrase!)

Very nice.

As a child who could be made to feel guilty, I hardened myself when it came to Moms care, maybe a little too much. I was the oldest and a girl. The one who remained in the same town. The one who was always there for hospital and rehab visits. My brothers did nothing. I guess they thought I'd ask if I needed anything. So, decisions were left up to me and they were made with how my decision would effect Mom and me, as the caregiver. Right or wrong I refuse to feel guilty. Since everything fell into place, I feel placing her was meant to be. Guilt is a waste of energy. You can't change what went on before.

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