Coping with Remote Caregiver Guilt

By Edward Dominguez posted 10-31-2019 00:08


Surrendering care of a loved one who is far away over to someone unfamiliar is one of the most stressful experiences you can have. Whether you’re an hour or a day’s travel away, you feel helpless and anxious about what’s happening. Being unable to assist with the care of your loved one physically can make you feel guilty too.


However, there is not much you can do to alter reality. There’s no way that you can put your home and work life on hold for several months to go and care for your loved one.


Here’s some advice to help you deal with the guilt you might be feeling:


  1. Support your caregiving relative


In the case where you have a parent, sibling, or family member who assumes primary responsibility for caregiving, offer them your support. Caregiving is a demanding task that is emotionally and physically taxing. The relative taking on this task will often feel alone and frustrated by the situation.


You can be there as a support system for your relative by listening. Let them vent their frustrations and be a sympathetic ear. Resentment can build when your family member feels like they’re doing all the hard work while you’re getting off scot-free.


Always remind them that you are appreciative of their efforts. They need to know that if they are to feel that they can continue. Contribute financially to the care of your loved one, especially if your relative has stopped working to become a caregiver.


  1. Secure caregiving support outside the family


Your family members who are caring for your loved one have lives of their own. They might not be able to give up their jobs, and you wouldn’t expect them to give up their other family responsibilities either.


It might be better to secure caregiving services via an organization like Tandem Careplanning. Utilizing the services of a professional caregiver can alleviate much of the stress and guilt you’ll feel when your loved one is far away. These companies do much of the vetting and interviewing to make sure that the caregiver they send you is competent and qualified for the job.


  1. Be prepared for some blowback


When you’re far away, the loved one being cared for might seem slightly resentful that you haven’t dropped everything to be by their side. This is often the case with elderly or infirm parents. They might lash out, asking you why you chose to stay so far away, telling you that they feel abandoned.


Bear in mind that they aren’t trying to make you feel more guilty than you already do. They are frustrated and scared about the future. As their child, they want you to be close by to reassure them. As hard as it might be, listen to these comments and explain gently that you cannot give them what they want. Avoid confrontations and make sure they know how much they are loved.


  1. Know your limits


The time you expend on stress and worry is not going to help the situation. Instead, it’s going to leave you exhausted. Accept the reality and adapt to it. You can’t be there to care for your loved one in the way you envisioned, although you can contribute to their care from far away.


You’ll need to forgive yourself for this, or the guilt will eat you up from the inside. The associated stress can affect your ability to do your job and care for your family. Don’t guilt-trip yourself out of the game of life. Take care of your physical and mental health so that you can continue to play a supportive, although distant, role in your loved one’s care.