How to Handle Feelings of Guilt After an Aging Parent Moves into a Care Home

There can be a feeling of guilt associated with moving your loved ones into a care home. Often, they have never discussed or planned on their preference for end-of-life care, and as their caregiver, you are left to make this difficult decision for them. I’ve worked in long-term care for over ten years, and time and time again I’ve spoken with family caregivers who feel guilty for having to move their loved one into a care home.

I can understand why. Family Caregivers begin providing care long before around-the-clock care is needed. Many people spend years trying to balance their personal and professional lives and caregiving. No matter how stressful caregiving may be knowing when it is time to seek full-time professional care for your loved one can be extremely difficult.

In this article, I’ll offer the benefits moving to a care center has for your loved ones and tips on how you can ensure your loved one receives the best care.

Moving to a nursing home can prevent isolation.

One of the most preventable risks to an older adult’s health is isolation. Even those who receive in-home caregivers or live with close friends and family do not receive an adequate amount of socializing throughout the day. In-home caregivers go home, and family caregivers often spend less quality time with their loved one because they need a break from their caregiving duties. This is normal and happens quite a bit.

Over the years, I’ve watched as new residents in the care center flourish as they have more people to interact with that are their ages and have activity options that don’t include watching T.V. or going out to a doctor’s appointment.

Variety in the types of social interactions are essential and are increasingly harder to obtain for older adults living in their own home.  Activity programs are designed to engage residents physically and mentally so that they maintain the highest functioning levels.

Let’s Eat! Around the clock monitoring of your loved one’s nutrition

A loss of appetite is common in older adults particularly for individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. For those individuals living at home or with close friends and family, their diet becomes dependent on whatever the caregiver can serve.  It is difficult to make food and exercise lifestyle changes if the caregiver doesn’t already incorporate good habits into their daily routine, so the older adult in their care will often have to assimilate into their routine.

In a care center, each resident is seen by a registered dietitian. The dietitians are trained in geriatric needs and understand common dementia symptoms such as loss of appetite. Each resident then is assessed by the dietitian and is given a specific nutritional diet that assists them in either maintaining their current weight, losing weight, or gaining weight. Each resident is also offered three meals a day and snacks in between meals, not to mention anything good that the Activities team cooks up that week!

Stay Active in Their Care

While nursing homes may have a less than ideal reputation they aren’t all that bad!  I’ve met so many wonderful and caring direct care workers over the years who provide the best care for the people in their care. Still, even as they move their loved ones in many family members express their hesitation in the decision. The attention to your parent or loved one is of the utmost importance!

The best way to ensure your loved one is receiving the best care is to remain active in the care process.

  • Visit as often as you can.
  • Attend their care plan meetings whenever possible.
  • Check in to make sure that they have enough of their favorite shampoo or snacks on hand.
  • If the center is responsible for laundry, write their name and room number in each article of clothing.
  • Even if you live too far away, schedule time to video conference or call your loved ones. You can even call their care plan meeting and discuss their care with the care plan team if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Get to know the staff who is caring for your loved one.

Know Their Rights and Your Local Ombudsman

Senior living is one of the most highly regulated industries.  Residents living in Skilled Nursing Facilities have rights that are both federally, and state mandated. Knowing these rights and advocating for them on behalf of your loved one is an excellent way to stay active in their care.

For those living in the States, The National Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. They are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates, and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual.

Making the decision could help both you and them!

Deciding to move a loved one into a care center is not an easy one to make. Too often, a family caregiver is left to judge without knowing the wishes of their loved one. Holding feelings of uncertainty or even guilt is common.

old-people-couple-together-connectedOver the years, I’ve watched so many family members experience these types of emotions. You don’t have to feel alone in the process.  This is a regular occurrence and deciding to seek additional help in the care of your loved one is often the best caregiving decision you can make for them and you.

Many older adults in need of care support experience isolation and a loss of appetite. Care homes are designed to address these types of dementia symptoms and the individuals living with dementia will receive a personalized care plan that seeks to address these types of concerns.

No matter the reason for seeking additional support in your caregiving duties it is important to trust your own decisions. You will undoubtedly make the right decision for both you and your loved one.

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