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  • Writer's pictureThe Ideal Team

Caregiver Guilt

We all understand the difficulty in making decisions when caring for an elderly loved one. However, one of the most difficult decisions is whether to place the individual in a nursing home or hire in-home care services. Even the best intentions can be accompanied by feelings of guilt.

It is common to have some feelings of guilt when considering care options for your loved one. Feeling a strong sense of duty and commitment, loved ones strongly resisting any outside help, or feelings of failure and judgement are just a few reasons why guilty feelings arise.

Sense of Duty

It is natural for family members to feel an obligation and commitment to care for aging loved ones. We believe it's our sole responsibility to care for our elderly loved ones, no matter how difficult or impossible it might be. After all, we are supposed to support one another in times of hardship, right? When our expectations extend beyond what is realistic, reasonable, or possible, that's when the challenge arises. These unmet expectations may begin to hinder our own ability to care for ourselves and lead to caregiver burnout.


The decision to hire in-home care or to place the individual in a nursing home will be met with resistance and refusal by your loved one. This will tug at your heartstrings and leave you feeling guilty, sad, and at a loss for options. Change is never easy, especially for seniors who are happiest with familiar routines and surroundings. Therefore, welcoming a newcomer into their home or the very idea of moving to a new environment can lead to protest, confusion, upset, and leave you feeling defeated, worried, and guilty for even having the thought.

Failure and Judgement

Being met with resistance when discussing care options can often lead to feelings of failure, judgment, and guilt. Some caregivers feel judged negatively by other family members and friends for taking a step back and asking for help from outside agencies, other family members, and care facilities. Even if a caregiver does everything they can to meet their loved one's needs, doubt, worry, and feeling like they failed them will still linger.

Feelings like these are normal and can be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to feel more at peace and regain balance in your life.

Coping with Guilt

It is natural to feel guilty when deciding on a course of action as a family caregiver. Care, compassion, and concern for your loved one are what makes the decision so difficult, but you know in your heart it's what's best for their health and well-being, and for you too.

Here are some strategies you can use to alleviate the feelings of guilt and overwhelm when making tough choices in the care of your loved one.

  • Deepen your understanding of your loved one's frustration or refusal of outside help. Discover their fears and concerns so you can address them directly. Consider involving them in care planning, hiring or selecting care providers, and this will help them feel more empowered and in control.

  • To feel comfortable and heard when coping with decision-making, talk to other family members, close friends, religious/spiritual leaders, and medical professionals.

  • By practicing self-care techniques like journaling, yoga, meditation, or activities you enjoy, you can unwind, relax, and reduce the stress of caregiving. Journaling, for instance, can help you dig deeper to find out why you feel guilty and examine your expectations: are they realistic? are your feelings of guilt helpful?

  • Research professional care services and agencies, like Ideal Caregivers 4u, to understand their philosophies and values, and put your mind at ease that your loved one will be in good hands.

  • Continue to connect with your loved one in their private home or if placed in a nursing home or retirement community. Become involved in their care by visiting them regularly, getting them involved in activities, and taking them out to familiar places. Be part of their care planning and communicate your own concerns with the home care team to ensure expectations are being met.

Whether your decision is to hire in-home care providers or consider placement in a nursing home, gaining knowledge and advice from trusted individuals around you or from homecare professionals is the first step in the prevention and management of feelings of guilt and overwhelm.

Connect with one of our friendly and trained team members to discuss respite service options we provide by calling (613) 769-1669 in the Ottawa region or (365) 355-5891 for our Hamilton location.


"Improving the quality of life for our clients since 1998 while providing peace of mind to their families."

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