As your parents age, it’s likely that they will start to need a bit of help in managing their day to day tasks to continue to live safely and comfortably.

Many children take on some or all of the carer duties and it can often be an expectation that they do so. Caregivers can experience feelings of resentment towards the person they are caring for, as well as strong feelings of guilt.

While many families choose to take on the bulk of caregiving duties themselves, more and more, children with ageing parents are choosing to reject the carer role and seek alternative options, such as Home Care. This choice often leaves them with heavy feelings of guilt and remorse.

Why do caregivers feel guilty?

Being a primary caregiver is a huge responsibility and depending on the level of need of your parents, it can have a significant impact on your life. It can affect your career and finances, your own family dynamic and lifestyle, your relationships, your social life, your physical and mental health. Due to this, many caregivers are unable to provide adequate care on their own and in many cases, will need to enlist the help of professionals. 

Making tough decisions

There are a number of reasons why people may choose not to become a caregiver for their ageing parents. Some of the common reasons are:

  • They lead busy lives, with children of their own, full time jobs and other commitments
  • They are not close to their parents and perhaps had a difficult upbringing
  • The career they have does not allow any time off or flexibility
  • They live in another country or state
  • They feel that they are not suited to a carer role and instead employ others
  • They have siblings who are more suited to the carer role and feel it’s better to leave it to them
  • They have health issues themselves that impacts their ability to care for anyone else

Dealing with caregiver resentment and guilt

Caregiver resentment is common – and it’s normal! Try not to judge yourself too harshly when you have moments of frustration, anger or irritation when caring for a loved one. Caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining, and it’s likely that you are juggling many different things at once. It isn’t surprising that you’ll have times where the stress and exhaustion tips over and you feel resentful of your situation. 

The person you’re caring for may also be in pain and angry and frustrated, and if they take some of that out on you, it can further increase your feelings of resentment towards them. To ensure these feelings don’t take root permanently, it’s important that you find time for yourself. 

A lot of the time, if you have made the decision not to be a primary carer for your parents, you may feel a lot of guilt and sometimes pressure from others.

You’re not being selfish! If you don’t feel that you’re the right person for the job and you outsource or find someone else who is better suited, that is often the right thing to do. This decision is in itself an example of caring well for your parents. Acknowledging that you’re not the best option for support and care and instead finding a better resource, is in the best interests of your parents too.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout

If you’ve been caring for someone for a while, it is likely that you’ve experienced the symptoms of carer burnout.

Some of the most common signs of carer burnout are:

  • Having a short fuse, being irritable or quick to anger
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
  • Absences from work
  • Alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Emotional and/or physical exhaustion
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to harm self or person you’re caring for

Caregiver burnout can be very serious, so it’s vital that you put things in place to stop it from happening. Here are some great tips on how you can prevent carer burnout.

What if I can’t be a caregiver anymore?

This can be a tricky situation, particularly if you are an only child and you don’t have the financial means to pay for ongoing care.

Don’t worry, there are always other options! If your parents themselves have a little money saved and their care requirements are fairly basic, they can pay for a carer to visit them for an hour once or twice a week.

Get a Home Care Package!

Make sure your parents apply for a Home Care Package! Home Care Packages are a government-subsidised program in which people over 65 with need of some extra help around the home can receive up to $60,000 per year to go towards their Home Care.

Aged Care Home (Nursing Home) Placement

If your parent/s require a significant amount of care and a Home Care Package just isn’t enough, you can pay privately for extra Home Care on top of the Package, or you can consider an Aged Care Home.

This certainly isn’t a decision to be taken lightly and requires a lot of thought, discussion and research. Most people prefer to age in their own homes, but sometimes this just isn’t practical, particularly when care needs are complex, or when someone requires full time care.

Don’t wait!

We strongly recommend that your parents apply for a Home Care Package early! The wait times are long so it’s better not to leave it until you’re in crisis. Information is power! If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to turn, CareAbout can point you in the right direction and put you at ease.