When you have to move a parent or a loved one into a senior living community, it means a big adjustment for them, for you, and the whole family. As if moving mom into assisted living wasn’t enough of a challenge from a logistical point of view, it is also accompanied by a flood of strong emotions, as all significant life changes are. One of the most common emotions you are likely to feel is guilt.
While guilt is a common reaction to moving mom into assisted living, its source may be either external or internal. You may meet with resistance from your mom or endure judgments from other family members. Your guilt may also be internal. Your loved one may be willing to go along with your decision, and you may receive support from family and friends, yet you still feel that you failed to live up to your duty to your mom.
Whatever the source of your guilt is, you should know that they are a normal part of caregiving, even if the decision is for the best. Nevertheless, guilt can be counterproductive as well as uncomfortable. Consider some of the reasons why you should not be feeling guilty.
1. Your Mom May Not Know What Is Best for Her
Many elderly people are afraid of the prospect of going into assisted living or long-term care. They may ask you to promise to never move them into an assisted living community. It can help if you avoid making promises that you may not be able to keep.
When you made that promise to your mom, neither you nor she could have anticipated the series of events that would make assisted living a necessity one day. Circumstances change in unexpected ways, and assisted living can become the best choice. You have to act based on what is best for your loved one now, not what you may have promised her years ago.
2. Your Situation Is Unique
You may have friends who take care of loved ones of their own at home without considering assisted living. You may feel guilty because you think that you should do the same for your mother. However, you don’t know all the details of your friends’ situations, so you can’t possibly compare yourself to them. Chances are that your loved one has unique care requirements that your friends don’t have to meet, making caring for their elderly parent at home the right choice in their cases but impossible for you.
3. You Cannot Do Everything
You probably have other obligations that require your time and attention, such as children or a job. Caring for your mom at home may require more time and effort than you have available to expend. Pressuring yourself to take on more than you can handle caring for your mom, children, job, and other social obligations, you could be putting yourself at risk of burnout or stress-related illness.
4. There Are Many Ways To Meet Your Responsibility
You have the responsibility to attend to your parent’s care, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get help. Moving your loved one in an assisted living facility where you know they will get the care you are unable to provide may be the only way to fulfill your responsibility.
5. There Are Advantages to Assisted Living
Even elderly people who are resistant to assisted living at first often find that they do much better and enjoy themselves more than they would have at home. Assisted living offers advantages to elderly residents, such as caring staff members available to help 24 hours a day, that many come to fully appreciate once they get used to the facility. Assisted living can also offer significant social benefits as residents have the opportunity to interact with people their age. These new friendships can help fill a void that even being surrounded by younger family members can’t address completely.
Knowing that assisted living is the right choice doesn’t necessarily make the decision any easier. Be kind to yourself and keep reminding yourself of the reasons you have not to feel guilty. The chances are good that when you see how much happier your loved one is in assisted living, it will help relieve your uneasy feelings. Your loved one may even thank you for it.