Monday, August 7, 2017

Caregiver Guilt, Gender, Forgiveness (Research, Video 1:32)

Women and men who are caregivers don’t always want to be caregivers. Some enjoy nurturing their patients and find the caregiving experience challenging, but rewarding. Few people talk about caregivers who feel depressed, trapped in a hole with no way out except the death of persons in their care. Even reading this may sound scary. Imagine the guilt a caregiver might have when these feelings rise to the surface during their daily living.

This study analyzed guilt among family caregivers of dependent patients from a gender perspective. Interviewed were 73 family caregivers and 23 health professionals (family medicine, community nursing, and social work) with a focus on the following areas of guilt:

1) Guilt for abandoning family and friends

2) Guilt for the relationship with the dependent person

3) Guilt for placing the relative in a nursing home

Results indicated that women report more guilt than men for abandoning family and friends because of their relationship with the dependent person. Regarding nursing home placement, no difference was observed as a function of gender.

Guilt is a major problem that must be addressed by caregivers and healthcare professionals. Not finding solutions for guilt can lead to mental health issues. Caregivers need respite time away from patients, so they can share their experiences, gain information from others, and relieve stress. They need programs that save them time and make them feel that they are cared about by others. They need people to be their caregivers by temporarily relieving their burdens, sharing an uplifting activity, being good listeners, and providing encouragement.

One important beginning for caregiver relief of guilt is forgiveness of self.
In this video, Dr. Alexis Abramson discusses various ways for accepting and alleviating caregiver guilt.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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