How do you deal with shame

Feelings of shame when caring

At a later stage, the diagnosis of dementia can mean that the situation is reversed and the children have to look after their parents. This unfamiliar approach often creates a feeling of shame for everyone involved.

What triggers feelings of shame during care

Feelings of shame are instilled in early childhood with toilet training and certain accepted rules of behavior and are therefore deeply rooted. Not being able to prevent other people from entering your own intimate zone triggers feelings of shame.
Feelings of shame never completely go away

Care now makes it necessary to penetrate the privacy of another person. With increasing habituation and advancing illness, the feelings of shame often decrease, but they cannot be avoided entirely. Washing, helping with going to the toilet or changing diapers for incontinence are very intimate activities that are often accompanied by feelings of shame. Those in need of care are ashamed of the loss of their independence, their frailty and of being a burden.
Feelings of shame on both sides

The carers feel ashamed to see the relatives so helpless and to have to penetrate their private parts. They are often ashamed when they actually do not want to provide the care, are overwhelmed or feel inadequate. Ashamed of others can occur when a demented relative behaves improperly.

Dealing with shame while caring

It is helpful to speak openly about the feelings of shame and specifically ask which help and support is gladly accepted and what is rather unpleasant. The carer may also openly state what he or she feels capable of and what not. Together it is then possible to look for ways to make the situation easier. Sometimes it is also easier for everyone involved to have part of the care carried out by a nursing service.
Tips in handling:

  • Active involvement: In many cases, the sick person can still be actively involved in the care. This helps to reduce feelings of shame and maintain self-esteem.
  • Pay attention to habits: Maintaining lifelong habits also makes the caring situation easier. To get involved in the speed and rhythm of the patient and
  • Relaxing conversations: Chatting casually about everyday things while nursing can also help bypassing the feeling of shame.
  • Conscious words: As a carer, taking the necessary measures in words, gestures and facial expressions in a friendly and affectionate manner also relaxes the situation for those in need of care.
  • Mindful care: Small measures can greatly improve the feeling of well-being. When washing, only the part of the body that is being washed can be exposed. This largely avoids the feeling of nudity.

The caregivers themselves are under strong, constant pressure, which can also create feelings of shame. It is therefore important that you also have time for yourself, meet friends or be able to exchange ideas with other people affected in a relatives group.

Recognizing and understanding feelings of shame and learning to deal with them helps to overcome them.