Moving your older adult into assisted living might be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make in your life. So many caregivers are feeling guilty about “putting mom in assisted living” – moving their parent, spouse, relative, or close friend to assisted living, a nursing home, or memory care. But when caring for someone at home becomes dangerous or nearly impossible, it’s absolutely necessary to move them to a place where they’ll be safe and get the care they need.
Unfortunately, the reality is that even if this is the best decision for their health and for yours, the guilt and sadness can still be overwhelming. It hurts when you have negative thoughts and feelings about a decision you were forced to make. Your heart will need some time to catch up with what you know in your head.
While you’re adjusting to the changes, understand what’s causing the guilt can help you accept the decision and reduce emotional stress.
In this post, you’ll learn three common reasons that cause you to feel guilty about moving your parent or spouse to assisted living and why those beliefs aren’t true and why the reality of the situation made your decision unavoidable and necessary.
3 common reasons you might feel guilty about a move to assisted living – and the reality behind them.
1) Common belief: You’ve failed in your duty to care for them
- I promised Mom I’d always take care of her.
- Dad asked me to never abandon him.
- When we got married, we promised that we’d always be there for each other – in sickness and in health.
Reality: That’s not true. You’re making sure they’ll be getting the level of care they need. Moving someone to assisted living doesn’t mean you’ve failed to take care of them. It means you’re making a difficult decision to prioritize their health and safety and get them the level of care they need – a level that may no longer be possible at home over the long term. Most likely, you’ll still be spending a lot of time with them, checking in with the staff, advocating for their needs, and managing their overall care. You are taking good care of your older adult and you certainly haven’t abandoned them.
2) Common belief: You’re not as good a caregiver as you should be.
- My friend takes care of her Mom at home and has been doing it longer than I have. I should have been able to keep doing it too.
- My brother thinks I’m being lazy and thinks I just don’t want to take care of Mom at home anymore.
- My husband’s daughter (from a previous marriage) told me that she’s angry that I’m dumping her dad in a home.
Reality: That’s not true. You’re doing the best you can, which is all anyone can realistically do. Each family’s situation is different and you don’t know their whole story, so it’s not fair to compare yourself to others. Your older adult may have more serious health conditions or need a higher level of care than is possible to provide at home. And if your own health is suffering or if someone is likely to get injured, it’s time to make a change in the living situation. In these situations, moving your older adult protects both of your health and safety and allows them to get the care they need. Besides, if you don’t protect your own health, you surely won’t be able to continue caring for them for much longer. It’s also important to remember that people who don’t help and don’t understand the situation aren’t qualified to make judgments or accusations. If they refuse to understand the reality, do your best to ignore their hurtful comments.
3) Common belief: Their health wouldn’t have gotten worse or would have improved if you hadn’t made the move.
- Mom wouldn’t have gotten so sick with the flu if she was still home with me.
- Dad would be eating better and not losing weight if I was still taking care of him.
- My wife would still recognize me if she had stayed at home with me instead of moving here.
Reality: That’s not true. It’s not possible to control someone’s health or cognitive ability. It’s natural to second-guess ourselves, but the reality is that nobody can predict or control the future. You might think that maybe things would have been different if you’d kept your older adult at home. But it’s also possible that the outcome would have been the same. Or, things could have been worse if you hadn’t decided to move them to assisted living. Remember, you made this tough decision because the level of care they needed was no longer sustainable at home.
Source: Daily Caring blog
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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