National Forgiveness Day is July 26, a reminder that we can choose to set aside disputes and let go of past hurts. What, do you ask, does that have to do with caregiving? A lot.
Forgiveness is not always about forgiving someone else. For many caregivers, it is letting go of that small voice in our head that tells us we did not handle a situation well or that we did not make the right decision. This can be especially true for dementia caregivers because each day is different and what worked yesterday or an hour ago may no longer work in the moment.
Beating oneself up over these types of situations is especially true for solo caregivers, who do not have support people to share ideas with or to affirm their decisions. Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers can be that resource for caregivers. Not only can they help you make clear-headed decisions, but they can also help you find the right resources. They can also take off some of the pressure by helping you with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), like doctor visits and setting up grocery or meal deliveries, to name a few.
Feeling guilty or sad about hurting our care partner with our words or actions is common and, in fact, normal emotions because you care about them. It is what you do with these emotions that matters. When you understand that you have the right to forgive yourself and then do so, you open yourself to the lesson, move on, and are able to live in the present, a critical skill for caregivers.
Forgiveness of someone who has hurt us physically, emotionally, or through betrayal is very difficult when you find yourself in the caregiver role. Recognize that forgiveness is a process – you must make (and remake!) the decision to let go of hurt, resentment, and even vengeance. The process is not easy but is the first step toward healing emotional wounds from a toxic relationship. Of course, it is always a good idea to get help from a professional in these cases.
No matter how you decide to address the process of forgiveness, it will take work and self-awareness. When we understand that continuing to hold resentment and anger towards someone who hurts us, or if we neglect to forgive ourselves, we ultimately cannot find peace. And peace is a good reason to do put in the work to forgive.
The commitment to let go is not something that happens overnight. It means realizing you have a choice and finding a way to empathize with the other person. It means owning, if anything, what you have brought to the situation. It means not letting the visual of all past hurts play repeatedly in our mind, which requires focusing on the present. Feelings of compassion for the person who hurt you and for yourself make space for peace and allow you to move forward in your life.
During this process (and even after), it is ok to decide that certain parts of caregiving are not things you can do realistically for your care partner. The reason doesn’t matter. It is the preservation of your own mental and physical well-being that does. Working with Springpoint at Home to bring in a Certified Home Health Aid (CHHA) to take over caregiving tasks, particularly intimate ones, is a smart and healthy choice. Working with Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers to create a lifestyle for you and your care partner that is manageable and healthy is also a smart and healthy choice. And there is no reason to feel guilty about it.
To learn more about Springpoint at Home and our services, please call 844-724-1777 and set up a complementary consultation.