Recently in talking with a caregiver who takes care of her mother, father and mother-in-law, the ever present “guilt work” came into the conversation.
“Why”, said the daughter, “do I never feel like I do enough or do the right thing”? Well, it is more complicated than this simple answer but, the answer is, you just can’t fix it!
The majority of us have a tendency to want to make something or someone better, to make those who are hurting or suffering from progressive illness, like a dementia, fell better or be less anxious. A parent can have an uncanny way of making us feel like we didn’t stay long enough or get just the right fix to whatever the problem was that engaged us in the interaction. This is often not so much because you have a controlling parent but because of the parent’s anxiety, fear or loneliness.
It is hard to know what the pull is but, if you leave feeling guilty it is often because you can’t truly make the internal feeling that they have go away, no matter what your skills, education, experience or love are. Those who are successful at balancing caregiving with self-care know they can’t fix all problems. What you can do is be “present” when you are with your parent. Express your love and admit you don’t have all the answers. Do your best knowing you can’t fix everything!