Seeing our parents grow older is hard. It’s one of life’s most painful realities that we must admit. Their disease or old age can sometimes cripple them from functioning normally. In most cases, they eventually struggle physically and cognitively as they perform everyday tasks, from taking a bath, visiting the restroom, and even taking meals.
Moving a senior parent into respite care may be one of the most painful decisions you’ll ever make in your life. Grief and guilt are two challenging emotions family members go through when transitioning a senior from home to a care facility. It gets even harder if you cannot provide the care they need and they refuse the idea of relocation.
Having the discussion and moving senior parents to assisted living is a challenging scenario for any child. Many seniors assume they can handle themselves for their entire lives. Thus, family members should play an instrumental role in determining health and caregiving issues and making appropriate changes for the health and well-being of their senior loved ones. This article will explore the underlying reasons why family members feel guilty about relocating seniors to a care facility and how to handle these emotions.
Causes of caregiving guilt
Seeing our loved one suffer from their health and living situation makes us wish we could take away their struggles. We want to offer support and love as much as we can, and we exert so much effort to provide for their needs. But as they age, their needs become more complex, and our time and effort may not be enough to keep them in good shape.
Guilt can be a complicated feeling. When it comes to caregiving, we work hard to meet the expectations of our family, our culture, religion, and, more importantly, ourselves. We become our own biggest critic if we fail to do our caregiving responsibility well enough. As a result, we get emotionally overwhelmed, and we developed a damaging habit of negative thinking.
Caregiving guilt can be self-imposed, especially when the care recipient takes advantage of the caregiver’s compassion. Some seniors can be notorious for making their children feel guilty to get what they want. Although guilt stems from outside sources, undeserved guilt is something caregivers should overcome. If this goes on, a caregiver may suffer from anxiety, depression, and burnout. Thus, establishing boundaries is essential to protect the caregiver’s well-being.
Role reversal also causes feelings of guilt when we have to make difficult decisions instead of our parents. Failure to improve their lives and ease their suffering makes it difficult to handle this reality. Sometimes, children end up sacrificing their comfort to improve the life of their senior parents.
Sending a parent to a senior care facility is something frowned upon by many. Moving them to other people’s care would mean that you’re an ungrateful child and unable to provide for their needs. There may be cases that you promise them not to send them to a nursing home, but you end up doing it. Although you have already given these promises, you still need to decide based on their health and situation.
Moving to assisted living is, in fact, the smartest thing to do if you’re willing to improve the quality of your senior parent’s life from social and medical perspectives.
Ways to deal with guilt
It’s natural for children to feel guilty about relocating their senior parents to a caregiving facility, but it should never take a huge toll on their physical and mental health. If you think the relocation process is giving you a hard time coping, here are ways to deal with it:
Whenever guilt kicks in, think about the many advantages of assisted living. Under the care of professional caregivers, they can receive proper attention on their health and wellbeing, participate in meaningful activities, and interact with fellow seniors and caregiving assistants.
Moving your parent to a nursing home doesn’t mean you failed to perform your responsibility as their child. It means you’re courageous enough to make a smart decision to provide them the care and attention they need. You can still visit them, talk with their caregivers, and manage their care even from a distance. Sending a senior to assisted living isn’t abandonment but seeking a better form of care and treatment.
The bottom line
Avoid comparing yourself to other children who can keep their senior parents at home. Every family situation is unique, so it’s inappropriate to think of yourself as a bad caregiver. If your parent is suffering from a serious disease or illness, it may not be practical to push yourself further because it can only affect you and the senior’s quality of life.
Dealing with caregiving guilt is tough, but you must consider the significant implications of sending a senior loved one to a care facility. You can do nothing about your loved one’s situation, but you can do something by finding the best care option that works for their needs and living situation.