Getting rid of guilt



It’s one of the hardest decisions of your life

Moving your older adult into assisted living might be one of the hardest decisions in your life. When caring for them at home becomes dangerous or nearly impossible, it’s absolutely necessary to move them to a place where they can get the care they need.

Even if this is the best decision for their health and for yours, the guilt and sadness can still be overwhelming. It takes time, but there are ways you can help yourself accept the decision.


3 reasons for guilt and the reality behind them

Here are three common reasons and some example scenarios why caregivers feel guilty about moving their senior to assisted living. We explain why those reasons aren’t true and why your decision was unavoidable.

* 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.

You haven’t failed. Moving someone to assisted living doesn’t mean that you’ve failed to take care of them. It means you’re making a smart decision to get them the level of care they need.

You still spend as much time with them as you can, talk frequently with the staff, and manage their overall care. You are taking good care of your older adult and you certainly haven’t abandoned them.


2. You’re not as good a caregiver as you should be

*  My friend Sarah takes care of her Mom at home. I should have been able to keep doing it too.

*  My brother thinks I’m being lazy and just don’t want to take care of Dad 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.

You are a great caregiver. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s not fair to compare yourself to others. It’s also important not to pay too much attention to people who don’t help and don’t understand the real situation.

Your senior may have more serious health conditions or need a much higher level of care than is possible for you to provide. If your health is suffering or if someone could get injured, it’s time to make a change.

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 keep caring for them.


3. You feel their health wouldn’t have gotten worse or would have improved if you hadn’t make the move

*  Mom wouldn’t have gotten 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.

That’s not true. It may be true that things would be different if you’d kept them at home. But that doesn’t mean things would be better than they are now. It could actually be much worse.

Remember, you made this decision because their health and safety was in danger. Making a change is what had to be done to prevent something terrible from happening.


Bottom line

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.

Understanding where the guilt is coming from gives you the chance to remind yourself about the reality of the situation. Over time, you’ll be able to fully accept the decision. That goes a long way to easing guilt and reducing stress.