Feeling of Guilt as a Caregiver By Jessica Bell June 2018

Feeling of Guilt as a Caregiver By Jessica Bell June 2018

As caregivers, one often faces the overwhelming challenge of trying to balance work, family and the caregiving commitment. In trying to juggle it all it is common for caregivers to experience guilt around the caregiving role. Guilt can often result from time spent away from previous activities and obligations upon assuming a new role as a caregiver. The ability to assess any guilt associated with time spent away from families, friends, and previous activities in order to meet obligations for helping one is needed on an ongoing basis. This article is an introduction on how to balance thoughts, lifestyle, and create a clear mindset free of guilt. It also provides a path forward to enjoy one’s time as a caregiver and the ability to balance and resume regular routine (and time with others).

As a new caregiver, time will be spent blending activities, and it is likely the role of a caregiver will come with time-consuming activities, as well as worries and concerns. As with the CBC documentary ” I am Still your Child”, http://iamstillyourchild.com/, even young caregivers assume shared responsibility of an ailing family member, and find their lives create new pathways dis-similar to their peers. Such as true for many caregivers in comparison to their previous roles and other family and friends.

A caregiver needs support, education and planning to help alleviate feelings of guilt associated with their new role and responsibilities. As new tasks and activities can be overwhelming, consider this quote for some thought on how to approach feelings of guilt.

“Guilt is an emotional state where we experience conflict at having done something we believe we should not have done ( or conversely, having not done something we believe we should have done.) This gives rise to a feeling state which does not go away easily and can be difficult to endure.” Diana Lalor; Dealing with Feelings of Guilt; http://www.cottesloecounselling.com.au/dealing-with-guilt.html

Essentially, the guilt of trying to balance the role of being a caregiver can tax a caregiver’s mindset and this needs attention to ensure a balanced mindset and satisfaction in work offered to one in need. Guilt is learned in childhood to signal a learned response to correct mistakes. However, as an adult, this feeling can last and upset a person’s ability to find joy and balance in their lives. Remember feelings of guilt do hold a purpose if only to get our attention. Once a caregiver recognizes guilt they can then take steps to ensure a clear and hopeful mindset.

Support can be found from a variety of sources such as community agencies, family, friends other caregivers and online through websites such as offered by the Family Caregivers of BC and local area BC resources such as East Kootenay Caregivers Network.

When reaching out for information, companionship and advice can not only educate a caregiver further on the support available but alleviate worries and regrets about the different roles a caregiver will have on a daily, weekly and ongoing basis.

However, the planning of tasks and the mindset to do the work falls into the hands of a caregiver themselves. The ability to recognize feelings of guilt are evident is essential and these ideas can help with that process. A journal or even checklist is a good place to start reviewing the progress made as a caregiver and your own thoughts on what is working and what needs more support. Again local resources can assist with this process.

Feelings of guilt and remorse can be difficult. Here are some tips to alleviate the many and enduring concerns and achieve a balance for the obligations needed as a caregiver.

  • Look for evidence. List your accomplishments as a caregiver, the tasks completed for those in need, a reminder of what you have done.
  • Balance your time. Unlike those you may care for, others in your life may need to take on a more independent role to allow for your time and expertise in the caregiving role. This can be a healthy part of life, a process where responsibilities can be shared and discussed openly.
  • Again, keep a journal of tasks completed, and support and questions you may have, even running checklists ready for assessments with other areas of support such as medical practitioners, or even observations of those in need and their ongoing health. This process can put your mind at ease, that it is recorded and you can put these concerns aside when resuming your role in other aspects of your life.
  • Set boundaries and assess your progress. You may change your availability to complete tasks, timing or learn of additional support. It is important to know how much time and obligations you can commit to, this also includes time spent away from your role as a caregiver.

“Guilt often arises when there’s a mismatch between your day to day choices the “Ideal You” would have made.” Dr. Vicki Rackner, MD.; Eight Tips to managing Caregiver Guilt; Today’s Caregiver; https://caregiver.com/articles/managing_caregiver_guilt/

Let’s face it, life is not a perfect process, and regular records and assessments of your tasks and progress will help alleviate fears, worries and feelings of guilt associated with a new role as a caregiver and time are taken from a previous or more regular routine.

As a caregiver attending group sessions or calling a local agency for caregiver support, #1-800 can help alleviate intense emotions that can build up over the course of caring for an ailing person. The patterns of guilt need to be balanced with peace of mind knowing work is being done in a timely and planned process. Local resources are available to assist.

The role of a caregiver, as with much in life, is a balance that relies on a strong mindset, and the ability to actively take on new tasks and activities. A balanced mindset is a key to finding joy in each part of our lives, and this remains true for the role of a caregiver.


  1. CBC documentary ” I am Still your Child”, http://iamstillyourchild.com/
  2. Diana Lalor; Dealing with Feelings of Guilt; http://www.cottesloecounselling.com.au/dealing-with-guilt.html
  3. Dr. Vicki Rackner, MD.; Eight Tips to managing Caregiver Guilt; Today’s Caregiver; https:/caregiver.com/articles/managing_caregiver_guilt/.