Balancing Caregiver Guilt

You can’t do it all. It’s not your fault!


So often, it’s coulda/shoulda with caregivers. No matter how much they do, they seem to feel as though it’s never enough– perhaps because our loving inclination is to try to heal or solve the problems our loved one is having. Even though we know that we can’t do it, there is always that nagging feeling that you might be able to if only you’d try harder, give up more of yourself, your life, found something — anything — that could do it. What we know in our mind is often at war with what we struggle with in our gut. It’s not healthy for either us or our loved one, and is, ultimately, not helpful to the situation. But even if you can’t completely dominate that nagging guilt, you can, with logic, persistence and support of those who have been there done that, assuage it.

Talking with others who’ve been there done that helps.

2016 Friendly Caregiver Awarded book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing)  offers suggestions for balancing guilt with reality.

Available Amazon


Resolutions and Daily Life


I’ve never been a believer in  thinking up New Year’s resolutions because for one thing, they’re usually the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish or delete all year long, and stressing over it during the last few days of every year, when life is stressful enough, just seems counterproductive to me. Having said that, some of my friends make them, and find the annual deadline helpful. Some even achieve them! Today’s Caregiver Magazine (who gave us an award for our book — thanks thanks!) has the same kind of suggestions that we, and virtually every other person who has done/seen or been recruited into caregiving subscribes to. If you’re a January 1-resolution-person, AND are a caregiver (though many of them work just as well for those who are simply trying to improve our own lives and live the best way we can day by day), they’re spot-on.

National Family Caregiver Month Day 30

Sue Collins


 We are grateful to everyone for taking time to read our daily post during the month of November for National Family Caregiver Month. We hope you found the posts inspirational and have learned not to sweat the small stuff and to realize you cannot fix everything. When you begin to feel stress, STOP and take 3 deep breaths to center yourself.

As we approach the Holiday Season we would like to share an old post: Sue’s Favorite Smoothie to give your immune system a boost.

Sue’s Favorite Smoothie11401584_951767381512252_8341760167575151887_n

I have never been a fan of taking multi vitamins for several reasons: cost; the neon colored urine, which seems unnatural; and honestly, I forget to take the darn pills. For me making a smoothie is easy, plus I can control what I put into the smoothie (and my urine does not change colors — unless you add beets, which I don’t, I prefer to eat them!).


Greens: A handful. I use lacinato kale or spinach or a    combination

Banana: ½

Blueberries: 6-10 berries. I use frozen unless in season…

Fresh fruit in season

Flax seed oil: one tablespoon

Cinnamon: one teaspoon

Tumeric powder: one teaspoon

Protein powder: I use 2 Tablespoons of plant-based protein

Almond milk: between ½ to one cup depending on the fresh fruit used and

the desired consistency.

Blend together and enjoy

Greens: I prefer Lucinato Kale because I find it to be less bitter tasting then curly kale. Greens help detoxify the body, give you energy, helps with digestion and strengthens the immune system.

Banana: Rich in Potassium and vitamin B6, helps support heart function.

Blueberry: An antioxidant and some Vitamin C

Flax seed oil: Omega 3 thus it helps lower cholesterol

Cinnamon: Supports heart health, known to lower cholesterol

What Matters Most? Making care of yourself a priority.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved

National Family Caregiver Month Day 17


Maintaining balance — physical, emotional and spiritual –is essential to well-being. Balance can affect your ability to focus attention and energy on tasks and goals. When you are in balance you feel good and move through life easier. Caregiving can drastically change in short order — a crisis, a needed change in medication, an alteration in the loved one’s abilities. Those changes can leave you feeling out of control and unbalanced. This is normal, or maybe it’s the new normal for you as caregiver.  It’s OK to feel frustrated, angry or to have a good cry. It is better to let the feelings out than to suppress them.

When there’s a sudden change in circumstances, reset your day by rethinking chores and errands. This may be a great time to call on that friend or family member who said, ‘Let me know what you need.” They would probably be unhappy to learn you didn’t accept their offer when you needed to, and instead tried to handle a situation alone.

Finding daily balance is ongoing as a caregiver.  Think about what is most important for you to accomplish without spreading yourself too thin. Keep going back to the drawing board until you find a solution that makes sense.

What matters most? Flexibility. Try a new approach to a situation.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved

  National Family Caregiver Month Day 10

getattachmentthumbnail There Might Be Dragons

Do the family members get along with each other or are there conflicts? Is there open and honest communication (sometimes too honest?) or is there more  blame and criticism than problem-solving? Do family members listen respectfully or talk over one another? It’s not unusual to have different ideas about how to provide care for a loved one, but how an idea is offered, including tone of voice, can mean the difference between kind and helpful or triggering a defensive response that dates back to childhood.

The primary caregiver already has a lot on his or her shoulders. Having a family member, particularly one who doesn’t help in the care, in your face demanding, complaining even threatening about what you should do can feel like a dragon breathing fire down your neck. Not helpful.

This can be exhausting when you are already running on your last nerve. One of the best ways to save your energy and avoid taking the bait (to mix a metaphor), is  SILENCE. Don’t try to be a dragon slayer. It only escalates the fight. Walk away. Distancing yourself and not engaging will protect you emotionally. It could even calm the dragon. If they won’t retreat, and if you can’t use silence, each time they raise their voice, you lower yours. This will shift the focus as they try to hear what you are saying.

Finally, it is OK to say enough is enough.If nothing you do changes the dragon, you need to seek support. Talk with an understanding friend, write in a journal, take three deep breaths, take a walk outside or meditate to help regroup. Remember you cannot fix them, so find support for yourself, and let them find theirs.

What matters most? Protect yourself by not engaging and staying calm.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved

National Family Caregiver Month Day 5

Declutter BUT Start Small!

Cluttered space can make us feel stressful. Are you embarrassed or do you feel guilty at your surroundings when someone drops by unexpectedly? Frustrated because you can’t find what you need — keys, bills, medication?


If you can’t find a place to put something, chances are you have too much stuff. Clear out a little. Don’t try to tackle the whole place at once. Do a little each day that you can. Start small in the bathroom. Clear off the counter. If you don’t use it, loose it. Give yourself 15 minutes. Stay focused just on the counter until it’s done. If you aren’t done after fifteen minutes, stop and spend another 15minutes the next day. A decluttered environment alleviates at least one stressor in your life.



What matters most? Making progress and staying focused on one area at a time.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved


National Family Caregiver Month Day 4

Gary Barg

We posed the following question to some notable leaders in the caregiving community. Here is the response from Gary Barg, CEO of and Editor in Chief of Today’s Caregiver Magazine:

If you could give a caregiver only ONE piece of advice for their self-care, what would it be?

“The most important thing you can do to support the loved one for whom you care is to care for yourself as well,” he says. Barg knows from his own experience and from the experiences of the thousands of caregivers around the nation who have relied on him for advice.

OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing 2014), winner of the 2016 Friendly Caregiver Award from Today’s Caregiver, addresses ways to achieve self-care through experienced-based practical solutions to potential problems, including scheduling respite breaks and ways to maintain boundaries with family members.

Gary Barg is Editor-in-chief Today’s Caregiver Magazine, CEO of and the engaging host of the Fearless Caregiver Conferences held around the nation. Today’s Caregiver is the first national magazine to provide information, advice and support for both nonprofessional and professional caregivers. Barg’s Fearless Caregiver Conferences bring together professional and non-professional caregivers of all kinds and provide support, resources, technological innovations and answers to caregivers’ questions.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved