Guilt

   Guilt is the most common feeling caregivers have toward aged loved ones. "Guilt feelings are inevitable...when parents reach the stage of needing care and we can't fulfill every need that they have, we feel very guilty." -Robert Butler, MD, noted physician in the area of mental health and old age.

   Some caregivers may also experience `survivor guilt` because they still have good health. Perhaps a husband or wife experiences chronic health problems. The other spouse, who is still in good health and able to live a more active life, experiences guilt that he or she is healthy and the spouse is not.

   Guilt usually comes from any or a combination of three sources. Caregivers feel they have:

  • 1. not lived up to a family member's expectations
  • 2. not lived up to some code of ethics or morals such as "Honor thy father and thy mother" or "love, honor, and obey,"
  • 3. not lived up to their own expectations.
   Caregiver energy and abilities may fall short of what they expect of themselves which creates additional stress.