Stuck Between Caregiver Regret and Worry?

September 13, 2009 at 12:24 am Leave a comment

Caregivers are particularly vulnerable to regret and worry.

I wasn’t exempt. My mom wanted me to fuss over her–and worry that I didn’t do it right. She was an “old school” mom who thought that the only way to get anybody to do what you wanted them to do was to make them feel bad about it. I fell into regret and worry and found myself stewing my days (and nights) away and not really being present.

My list of regrets:

  • I wasn’t kind enough
  • I didn’t do enough to meet her needs
  • I lost my temper

My list of worries:

  • How long could I care for my mom–and what would happen to her then?
  • What if she falls and I’m not there?
  • Will I be there when she dies? Do I want to be?

The lists are much, much longer, but you get my drift.

What’s got you in a tizzy? What plays over and over in your head late in the night?

One thing I know is that living in worry or regret isn’t fully living in the now–and life is a series of  nows–and it’s all we’ve got.

The truth about regret and worry is that it doesn’t make you better caregiver. It eats away at your brain and your heart and leaves you immobilized. It can even effect your health and is a major component to caregiver stress overload.

But I couldn’t just stop worrying. It wasn’t easy to just turn off all those thoughts–and insomnia was starting to enter the picture. I was missing a lot of sleep because of these two culprits! 

So I began to look at what regret really is. Regret is based in the past. It’s the I “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s”  that swarm around your head like angry bees. The fact is, I can’t change the past. I can only learn from it.

Worry is future-based. I found that I was taking what happened in the past and projecting it into the future. If mom fell yesterday, it was likely she’d fall tomorrow–maybe even break a hip. Then what would I do? I played out the whole scenario–from calling 9-11 to the ER to hip replacement and months of rehab. Isn’t that ridiculous? My mom never broke her hip–so all that worry was in vain.

As hard as it is, begin to notice when you’re in regret or worry mode. Notice what’s got you so upset. Is there anything can you do about it? One small change? One phone call or Internet search that will at least llead you closer to your solution? 

I actually did the old rubber band trick–if I caught myself fretting, I’d give myself a good whap.

Nothing like a stinging reminder to break a bad habit, but the real reward was feeling lighter and free-er by getting off the guilt train.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving.

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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