Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dissolving the Feeling of Guilt of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Archive Category: Aging | Caregiving | Grief and Loss | Latest | July 30, 2011 | Carna Zacharias-Miller | 4 Comments

By Carna Zacharias-Miller
Tucson, Arizona, US

Being the primary caregiver of a family member who has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia is traumatic and demanding. There are many aspects to handle, for example: the tremendous emotional toll (loss of the established relationship with a spouse or parent which brings up fear, anger, depression and grief), administrative, legal and financial issues, medical and physical problems, or dealing with other family members who can be either missing in action or meddling.

One of the most difficult decisions to make is at what point the transfer into a nursing or other care home is appropriate. Dementia is not a disease that gets worse in a linear fashion, there are days or moments when the patient is exactly the person we have known: sweet, connected and complete clear in his or her mind. There just is not one obvious marker that indicates for everybody, without a doubt, when the time for a care home has come.

This leaves the primary caretaker who has to shoulder the full responsibility for another’s life in an agonizing conflict: Am I really doing the right thing here?

“Miriam” came to me in order to work on all the aspects of the impending transfer of her life partner “John” with Alzheimer’s into a nursing home. The separation from somebody she had lived with on and off for 40 years, through good and also very bad times, seemed unbearable to her. It also stirred up other painful memories of separations from her parents, lovers, friends, and two of her siblings.

In one of our sessions we worked specifically on the feeling of guilt about putting John in a nursing home.

This guilt was experienced by her as pressure on the top of her head, and it had a lot to say. So we tapped:

Even though I am in this impossible situation that has no perfect solution, I do the best I can, and I am willing to accept myself.

Even though I have constant doubts about making the right decision, I treat myself with kindness and compassion.

Even though I have this piece of guilt wedged into my head, I soothe and comfort myself.

We tapped through the points giving the guilt a voice:

I am not letting you forget
You are irresponsible
I am not happy about how you are handling this
I know everything, and you know nothing
You are stupid
I make the right decisions, you can’t
Only I do it right, you don’t

I ended this sequence with a little re-frame, and Miriam laughed:

Not that an obnoxious little piece of guilt knows anything about making the right decisions.

The holding, grabbing sensation on top of her head was dissolving, and the piece of guilt said: “I’m melting, and I am not happy about that!”

Miriam described it now as a little bubble with a big mouth. “It is loud-mouthed, a know-it-all just sitting there and criticizing my every move. It is like a leech, feeding of itself, not helpful in any way.”

Since an energy form cannot just disappear, I asked Miriam what job we could give this piece of guilt that would actually be helpful. Miriam closed her eyes and envisioned that the big-mouthed bubble burst and its energy was transformed into a mass of tiny, sparkling stars that would help her make the right decisions.

“This is so beautiful!” Miriam said. “Twinkling stars dancing around my head and singing: “We love you, we love you…”

As mentioned, there are many aspects for the primary caretaker of a person with Alzheimer’s /dementia involved. If not handled well, they can lead to caretaker burnout which is an emotional and physical break-down. When doing EFT either in a practitioner-client relationship or working alone, it is crucial to get specific. A situation like this brings up everything of the caregiver’s personal issues, from childhood abandonment, the loss of other family members, lovers and friends, old guilt feelings, money fears, to anxiety about the future. Also, spiritual questions might come up, like: “What is the meaning of all of this?”, or even: “Why is God doing this to us?”

There is no perfect solution, there are no easy answers. However, EFT can greatly ease the emotional pain, help solve problems, and advance the spiritual journey.

Carna Zacharias-Miller is a certified EFT practitioner in Tucson, Arizona. Her specialty is working with people who grew up in a dysfunctional family, especially with a physically or emotionally “missing mother”. She also works with caregivers of Alzheimer’s/dementia patients.



Posted July 31, 2011 @ 8:37 pm |

This is one of, if not, the most traumatic disease that a family member would ever have to be faced with. I know several friends, and I myself, who have had to be caretakers to thier father, mother, husband, wife and if you have not personally experienced this in your life you should be aware that to judge or do anything but support the caretaker is a cruel mistake.
Also, Fathers & Mothers are emotionally different than taking care of Husbands, Wifes, Life Partners. We somehow expect to see our Dad or Mom age and fail and eventually need help, It’s very hard to see dementia happen to them, they drift away and if we are able to, we
can get into thier world for awhile, and slowly let them go as the people we used to know and look to for love etc.
When its your life partner who you have lived with and shared your most intimate moments, planned your life, experienced all that life has to offer a couple, becomes slowly and painfully a different person, not able to even recognise who you are sometimes, it is a living death.
Carna seems to have a very unique gift. Being able to give a person some emotional relief from this particular type of pain that a caretaker has to face is remarkable indeed.

Nili Marcia

Posted August 2, 2011 @ 2:03 pm |

“Since an energy form cannot just disappear, I asked Miriam what job we could give this piece of guilt that would actually be helpful. Miriam closed her eyes and envisioned that the big-mouthed bubble burst and its energy was transformed into a mass of tiny, sparkling stars that would help her make the right decisions.”

This was such a delight to read. What an excellent reframe to help in dealing with the difficult feelings and facts.

My heart goes out to those of you dealing with this tough situation. Thank goodness for these energy tools which make it easier to cope.


Posted July 11, 2012 @ 5:55 am |

Bless you for even mentioninf this here. My mother and I have been drug through court by my brother and the worry of not being able to pay bills and keep up with everything can be devastating plus as a caregiver I have always felt I wasn’t doing enough. You always think you should be able to fix it. I had to go back to work because we ran out of money and work for a company and departmjent and doctor who supposedly is doing sacred work and they don’t even have compasion. This article has helped release by just reading it. I am a new comer to EFT but I am hoping that I can work through all of this baggage ove rht enext few weeks and months.

Marilyn Swenson

Posted January 26, 2013 @ 2:51 pm |

Visiting Angels is indeed a blessing. I needed someone to care for my mom who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and I live in England. I was able to choose the right caregiver for my Mom. The person was experienced and had excellent credentials. I have peace of mind knowing that Mom is in capable hands.

Leave a Comment

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm and is filed under Aging, Caregiving, Grief and Loss, Latest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.