5 Ways Caregivers Can Avoid Guilt When Using Respite Care

Today, caregiver guilt is a common theme for many individuals who devote themselves to caring for a loved one in need. Caregiver guilt can manifest itself in different ways, but typically comes from a common source – the feeling that you are not doing enough to care for your loved one or you are not doing it well enough. 

Caregiver Guilt and You 

As explained in the Alzheimer’s Association® blog article, Taking Care of You – Dealing with Caregiver Guilt,” “As a caregiver, you may feel frustrated and angry at your chaotic life, or your lack of control. Anger often evolves into guilt. You may feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, and have the guilty thought, ‘how much longer can this go on?’ But understand, feelings can’t be denied. They can, however, be changed to some degree by adjusting your perspective.”

Experts in caregiver guilt advise that the first thing you need to do is realize that the feelings of guilt you have are perfectly normal. In today’s fast-paced world, it can seem like there is not enough time for any one thing; hence, multi-tasking has become the new normal.

Many at-home caregivers who are providing for the health and safety needs of loved ones today are also attempting to keep up with other important responsibilities such as family, home and work. The end result is that caregivers often feel they’re not doing any of these jobs well and guilty feelings can emerge. 

This sense of guilt is often compounded by the fact that, as human beings, we also desire time for ourselves – to do the things we enjoy most in life and that give us personal fulfillment. Experts in coping with caregiver stress emphasize that needing time off for yourself is not being selfish, it is simply being human. And caregivers who take the time to care for their own needs are often healthier physically and emotionally and best able to care for their loved ones. 

Understand that Respite Care Can Benefit Your Loved One, Too

Says Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, ADC, Administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania,“Today,respite care offers an ideal solution for busy caregivers who need a physical and mental break from their daily caregiver responsibilities, but also want assurances that all of their loved one’s needs will be taken care of. 

“Described by many caregivers as a ‘life saver’, respite care provides harried caregivers with some time to take care of their other responsibilities or to just enjoy some much-needed time to relax and revitalize. 

“In addition to offering caregivers some well-deserved time off, respite care also provides benefits to their loved ones as well.” 

These include:

  • A change of scenery from what can be a monotonous daily routine at home
  • Socially engaging and life-enriching daily activities and programs
  • The opportunity for companionship with others of similar age and life experiences
  • Pleasing, on-site amenities
  • Compassionate care in a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment
  • Tasty, nutritious meals and menu options

5 Tips for Leaving Respite Care Guilt Behind 

Stacey adds, “Despite the fact that respite care provides dependent loved ones with a safe, secure environment that caters to their comfort and care needs, many dedicated caregivers still suffer guilty feelings over taking some time for themselves.

“Fortunately, experts in the value of respite care and the common feelings of caregiver guilt say that there are several things you can to do to eliminate or reduce the anxiety and free yourself to enjoy your ‘me time.’” 

For example:

  1. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life – It is important to remember that your life is also highly important and irreplaceable.  Every human being needs and deserves some time to enjoy life, so give yourself permission to have some free time for all the things that give your life meaning and value. Always remember that you deserve a life, too!
  2. Realize the importance of your own physical and emotional health – Sometimes you mightfeel that taking time away from your caregiving duties is selfish. However, if you’re not well yourself, how can you be a good caregiver to your loved one? Caregivers who take the best care of their own physical and mental well-being also make the best caregivers.
    You can use personal respite care time to schedule physician and dental appointments, as well as other activities that support your personal comfort and enjoyment. Psychologists say that a massage or time spent doing yoga can do wonders for your state of mind and your outlook on life.
  3. Involve your loved one in respite care discussions – Be honest and upfront with your loved one right from the start about your need to use respite care services. Discussing your personal needs with them and explaining how respite care works can eliminate much of your guilt and anxiety.
    You can share a brochure or website information about respite care with your loved one and emphasize that their safety, comfort and care will always be your top priorities.
  4. Speak directly with respite care providers – You can also boost your confidence and reduce your sense of guilt by doing the following: talk with the respite care management and staff and ask any questions you might have; take a tour of the respite care location; learn about the specific services they provide; and become knowledgeable about their policies and practices. 
    If possible, visit a respite care provider with your loved one and have lunch there with a staff member who can answer all of your questions and put both of you at ease.
  5. Keep in touch when using respite care – Making frequent phone calls to your loved one when they are in respite care can also help to allay your fears and reduce any feelings of guilt you might have. Should any problems or concerns arise during their stay, members of the care team will always be happy to handle them for you.

Stacey adds, “Respite care can be an excellent solution for both busy caregivers and their loved ones. Our experience has shown that our respite care guests enjoy the change of routine, the interesting new surroundings and amenities, the enjoyable programs and activities and the new relationships they often form. Most importantly, they look forward to their next visit with us.”

We invite you to stay current on a wide variety of senior health and senior care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on 5 Ways Caregivers Can Avoid Guilt When Using Respite Care, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section. 

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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