Putting your parent into a home can be an overwhelming and highly emotional event. In some cases, it may provide you with some relief regarding their safety. However, that relief is quickly replaced by sadness, guilt, and even anxiety.
Guilt is something that many caregivers experience. They feel guilty about not getting help sooner, they feel guilty about taking action, and even guilty about asking for extra help. For many, the greatest feeling of guilt is associated with that final decision to put their loved one into a home.
The Positive Aspects of Putting Your Parent Into a Home
Every scenario is different, as each individual has their own individual needs and concerns. When you make that decision for your parent to enter a home, there's no doubt that it will be a struggle. You want the best possible care for them, then guilt begins to consume you.
However, there are positive aspects to this scenario:
1. Medical attention 24-hours a day: If your parent has a medical condition, a home can be a huge advantage. With doctors and nurses on call 24/7, you know that your parent will be monitored closely. Sometimes it is not possible to juggle your own personal life and the medical needs of a loved one. In some cases, it's best to have the support of a medical team.
2. Social life: Being social is so important. Perhaps your parent never left the house and lacked this crucial social interaction. At homes, residents are invited to participate in a number of recreational activities and events. This keeps them active, while building new friendships.
3. Safety: Besides medical concerns, accidents tend to occur when a parent is not properly cared for at home. Sometimes, accidents occur and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. These homes are more cautious in terms of potential risks.
How to Deal With the Guilt
If you are currently struggling with your decision to put your parent in a home, there are ways to cope:
1. You need to accept the fact that any illnesses involved are NOT your fault. These illnesses would occur whether you were the sole caregiver or not. Sometimes, the needs of an individual are too much for the help that you're able to give. Adjusting to this new scenario can be tough, but remember that they are being cared for by people that are experienced and qualified. Sometimes, professional care is necessary for the safety and comfort your parent needs.
2. Understand that you do not have complete control and that this isn't your fault. As the primary caregiver, you may feel partially responsible. However, you need to understand that some events in life are out of your control. You did the best you could. Caring for your loved one was a reflection on the incredible person you are.
3. Visit your loved one as much as possible, making sure they have everything they need. Are they adjusting well? What would provide them more comfort? If there are things that you CAN control, then take action on these instances. For example, your mom may have told you that she really wants a certain type of tea. After speaking with the staff, you can provide that for her. If your dad mentioned that he was a bit cold the past few nights, make sure he's set up with extra blankets and mention this to the nurses.
4. Look into other care options. Although a home is sometimes the only option, this is not always the case. There are plenty of options available regarding in-home and community care. Depending on the situation, you could utilize the benefits that some of these alternative options offer.
Whether you have already made this tough decision or you need to, please remember that guilt is not the healthiest emotion to feel and express. Although guilt is normal, do not let it consume you. Focus on all the positives. Just because your loved one is in a home, does not mean that you can no longer tend to them. They may find that they love their new environment and social interaction.
If they are able to stay in their home, then look for other options. If you are placing your loved one in a home because there's not enough time to care for them, then explore in-home care options. Keep communication open, hearing all opinions involved. From there, you can access related resources. Do not allow quilt to take over. Transfer those emotions and energy into something positive.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: