As a family caregiver your responsibility is to understand your aging parent’s needs and challenges, and devise a personalized approach to care, support, and encouragement tailored to those individual needs. This helps to ensure that your parent gets everything that they need in order to live a quality of life that is safe, healthy, comfortable, and fulfilling throughout their later years. If you do not live in close proximity to your parent, however, you might find that you are not able to give them the attentive level of care that you wish that you could. This can lead to feelings of guilt that might influence not just your care efforts, but also your daily lifestyle, mental and emotional health and well-being, and ability to fulfill your other care tasks. Dealing with this guilt is an important part of making sure that your loved one gets the care that you need and you maintain your own quality of life as well.
Use these tips to help your aging loved one deal with your guilt for being a long-distance caregiver:
• Evaluate why you are a distance caregiver. Take some time to think of why you are still living at a distance from your parent rather than making changes that might bring you in closer proximity, such as you moving or your parent moving. You might want your children to stay in their school district, you or your partner might have a career that you love and do not want to leave, or you might not want to go through selling your home. Your parent might not want to leave the home that they have lived in for decades or might be involved in their community and not want to leave it. Reminding yourself why you have chosen to stay at a distance can help to ease this stress and relieve your guilt.
• Remind yourself that you are doing your best. If you feel that you are truly doing everything that you can for your aging loved one, you should not feel guilty for the efforts that you put forth. Especially if you are in the sandwich generation, you have your children to worry about as well, which means that you cannot be expected to put more effort into your care for your parent than you are capable of giving without damaging the care that you give your children as well.
• Seek out support. Even if you know that you are doing everything that you can and giving your parent the best care possible, you might still feel guilty about being at a distance from them. Seeking out a support group for distance caregivers can make a tremendous difference in this situation. A support group can offer you emotional support and encouragement as well as advice from others who have gone through similar issues, enabling you to feel less alone in your journey and get valuable guidance in how to make better decisions and give your parent the care that they deserve.