A word of grace for those of you who care for an elderly person: You probably have less reason to feel guilty about your level of care than you might imagine. To say that another way: You’re probably doing the best you can with the resources, energy and capabilities that are available to you.
Caring for an older neighbor, friend or family member is perhaps the most complicated and frustrating thing you’ve ever done. You may not be experienced, educated or knowledgeable enough, and may feel inadequate to meet the challenges you and your loved one are facing.
Yes, you’re not perfect in this work, and sometimes it seems like you’re going backwards or downhill in your ministry of caring. But there’s more to consider here than your shortcomings.
You are not alone in these feelings. I don’t know of any caregivers for older adults—including skilled and experienced healthcare professionals—who don’t wrestle with feelings of failure or insufficiency.
Your supposed incompetence may exist only in your own mind. It’s possible that others around you are amazed at your dedication, your insistent grit, your loving demeanor. It’s possible that the persons you care for are overwhelmingly grateful for everything you do—yes, even though they might need more time, presence, assistance, encouragement, hope, healing or relevance. At the deepest levels of human interaction, these care-receivers know what sacrifices you’re making, what you’re putting aside for now, how you feel about them. And they’re grateful for all of that.
Your guilt doesn’t help make anything better. That feeling takes away from your spirit what you most need in order to remain a loving caregiver. If there is truly a reason for your guilt? Ask for and receive forgiveness, then live forgiven.
Be assured: God’s grace is at work in you!