#24 – Why do I feel so frustrated and guilty? I didn’t realize that not being nearby every day would be so stressful.

Click here to see the prior item in this series:  What if my mom only has a few months to live?

Why do I feel so frustrated and guilty? I didn’t realize that not being nearby every day would be so stressful.

You might think that being far away gives you some immunity from feeling overwhelmed by what is happening to your parent, but long distance caregivers report otherwise. Caregiving, especially from a distance, is likely to bring out many different emotions, both positive and negative. Feeling frustrated and angry with everyone, from your parent to the doctors, are common experiences. It can be hard to acknowledge that you feel this way, but try not to criticize yourself even more. Anger could be a sign that you are overwhelmed or that you are trying to do too much. If you can, give yourself a break: take a walk, talk with your friends, get some sleep—try to do something for yourself.

Although you may not feel as physically exhausted and drained as the primary, hands-on caregiver, you may still be worried and anxious. And you might feel guilty about almost everything—about not being closer, not doing enough, not having enough time with your parent, and perhaps even feeling jealous of those who do. Many long distance caregivers also find that worry about being able to afford to take time off from work, being away from family, or the cost of travel increases these frustrations. Remember that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances and that you can only do what you can do. It may help to know that these are feelings shared by many other long-distance caregivers—you are not alone in this.

If you are like most long-distance caregivers, you already have many people who rely on you: your spouse, children, perhaps even grandchildren, as well as friends, coworkers, and colleagues. Adding one more “to do” to your list may seem impossible.

As one caregiver noted, “When I was growing up, my mother and I weren’t very close. As an adult, I ended up across the country. When Mom got sick, my sister took on most of the caregiving. Because I’m hours away, I couldn’t be at Mom’s bedside regularly, but I did call her more often. I worked it out with my sister, so I took care of handling Mom’s monthly bills. I did visit several times and always encouraged my sister to take a break from caregiving while I was there. Now that Mom’s gone, I’m dealing with the estate, closing out accounts, and deciding what to do with the house. We all do what we can.”

Click here to see the next item in this series:  What can I do to take care of myself?

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.


Within Acorn’s service area of Chapel Hill, Durham and surrounding areas in North Carolina (Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Morrisville, Cary, and Apex) the following resources may be especially helpful:

  • Orange County Department on Aging, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, (919) 968-2070
  • Durham Center for Senior Life, 406 Rigsbee Avenue – Suite 202, Durham, North Carolina   27701, (919) 688-8247
  • Chatham County Council on Aging, 365 North Carolina 87, Pittsboro, North Carolina   27312, (919) 542-4512
  • Triangle J Area Agency on Aging, 4307 Emperor Boulevard
- Suite 110, Durham, NC 27703, 919-558-2711
  • Resources for Seniors (Wake County), 1110 Navaho Dr.  – Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27609, 919-872-7933