Why do I feel guilty when I take time for myself?

Asked by

Mom (93) has a care giver but expects me to be there several times a week. Mom and Dad(96) live in a life care community. She is in a villa which is 2000 sq ft and independent living. He is now in the nursing home. He has macular degeneration and Parkinsons ( confined to wheel chair). Mom has no mobility and can walk with difficulty using a walker . She has a caregiver come twice a day to help her dress, bathe and to serve her meals. They are near each other and can visit for short periods on a regular basis. Mom is resentful that I don't wait on her more even though I get called to fill in on Sundays ( caregiver's day off) and holidays( caregiver off). I have been doing this for 9 years and I am not getting any younger(62). I want my time to myself and I feel very guilty ( with my mother's help) when I am not available to wait on her at meal time. I am starting to make myself less available and would like Mom to move to the assisted living in her life care community where meals are provided. She would still be very near my Dad. She refuses!

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
Top Answer
LInda, From what I've seen, it is never easy or pleasant to move one's parents from the "independent living" part of the senior care community to the "assisted living" part. And I just don't think it ever will be. Who would want to leave a 2000 square foot apartment to move to a smaller unit in a different section of the community? This is yet another big loss for the elderly parent. However, reality needs to be faced. I feel that sometimes an elderly parent cannot have things the way he/she wants, if to do so would be draining or harmful to the caregiver (you). The trick is handling the matter gently and carefully so as to cause the least upset to the elder. Your mother is 93 so she is up in years. And you are 62 and you need to have more time for yourself. You said that your mother currently needs a caregiver to assist her with activities of daily living----dressing, bathing, and so on----This indicates that she effectively is already in the assisted living phase of care. It's just that many of these care communities prolong a resident's ability to live in the independent part by having aides come in occasionally to help out. That is a good idea if the aides don't have to come in often. But in your mother's case, it sounds like she needs help from aides regularly now, and twice a day at that . I am surprised that the facility has allowed this set-up to continue. If I were you, I would talk to the administrators of the community where she lives, and tell them what you've told us. Maybe they could be the ones to talk to your mother and tell her that her need for care has simply outgrown the independent section of the community, and now she will need to move over to the assisted living part. If these authority figures tell your mother this in a matter of fact way, she may be better able to assimilate this news and accept it.

Whatever you do, please do not allow your mother to make you feel guilty. I had to learn to listen carefully to that inner voice inside of us which tells us that it's OK to take care of ourselves too. You need to keep up your own strength so that you can take good care of your mother and watch over her. That means taking good care of yourself. I like the title of Leeza GIbbons' book called "Take Your Oxygen First." Apparently enough of us caregivers can fall into the trap of feeling like we should always be doing more for our parents, sometimes at the expense of our own health, that Leeza put that message in the book's title.
I agree and am surprised she is still in Indpendent living she needs assisted living or most probably a nursing home do not accept the quilt she is placing on you-you will burn out soon if you have to cater to her every whim she probably feels entitled because it is working for her-you have to think of yourself and what this is doing to you-you have a right to have a life of your own she may get angery with you but she will get over it if she has help twice a day that should be enough and if it is not she needs to be in a different place. Tell yourself you do not deserve to be treated that way and lose the guilt word-you can only do so much.
You feel guilty because you are a Caregiver! That is what they do! It is part of the Caregiver Personality and comes from the Caregivers Dilemma where we "give until it hurts!"

You might be a Caregiver if... you feel guilty when you take time for yourself and angry if you don't!

I have hundreds of these, "You might be a Caregiver if..." statements... try some, they are fun and therapeutic.
How to get brother who did Mother's Estate concerns to help with Dad (90) and Sister 57(Mental Disability) in the home. I was taking care of Mother, Dad
and Sister before Mother's death. I asked sister-in-law to stay with Sister and Dad until I got back from out-of-state workshop. It would have been a day or two day asking. I have told brother of my need to be at my home, have a long needed vacation and every third weekend free. I am frayed. My brother who I
love and respect very much is always saying how much he appreciates what I am doing. They will be returning from a week long vacation out of state today.
I need prayers and relief. (I do have a housekeeper for 3 hours every T,W, Th while I work. I did get healthcare people to come to give showers, attend to medical needs, and OT care.) Am I asking for too much or am I just being selfish? Brother does take Dad to Doctor visits...I can no longer lift his wheelchair. I take Sister to all of her many Doctor visits.
The facility probably wants her to stay in the IL part because they get big bucks for those units-my Mom got mad with my sister and called about near her and the up front charges were ridicious and 3 thousand a month fees and of course she is paying extra for aides twice a day-it should not be her choice -she needs to be in an AL-you have been enabling her for 9 years-detach tell her you are no longer going to step in every time she needs you-you want a life and she needs to go to ALor get someone else to take over for the times the aids want time off-of course she expects you to continue-she does not care what it is doing to you-she is being selfish-you are not a doormat-tell yourself over and over again you do not deserve to be treated this way-and Shila same for you-we have to teach others how to treat us-from now on tell them what you are willingto continue to do and the rest you expect your brother to do more or get someone else to step up-he handled your Mom's estate so he should be handle the care of your Dad and sister-your are making it too easy for him sit down and write out what you are willing to do for the next month and tell him that is all you are available to do-the sky will not fall if you assert yourself as it did not fall when I started making my husband treat me with respect while caring for him during his last years.
It comes down to this: The best you can do is the best you can do, and it's good enough. You feel guilty because you don't think it's good enough. You are doing this to yourself. If someone were giving care to you and doing the best they could, you'd never make them feel guilty about it, would you? If you wouldn't do it to someone else in your shoes, why in the world would you beat yourself up like that? Do your best, and then give yourself the praise you deserve if you can't get it from your care recipient. Any other solution opens you up to a host of mental health issues. Bless you for all the things you do for the loved ones to whom you give care. I think you're wonderful. And I truly believe that whatever God means to you, He sees what you are doing, the love you do it with and the love that motivates you to give the care in the first place.
How do you know when your parent is ready for Hospice? My Mother is 95 yrs old and has mobility issues. She has physical therapy for mobility but does not really participate and she really wants to quit and just continue sleeping 16 hrs a day. I would appreciate some input on this matter.
First I think you need to understand that guilt is anger turned inward. You first must acknowledge your anger and that you are doing the best you can for your mother and free yourself of the guilt that she is trying to place on you. Only you can do this. Once you understand this, it is time to sit down with your mother and maybe a social worker to help her understand the burdens that are on you as well as the burdens that are on her. Communication is the key and often adults in these cases only see from their point of view. They forget or get so wrapped up in their own problems that you have a side also.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support