Never Say Never
'Never say never'. Circumstances change; saying 'never' denies that obvious fact. All too often having said 'never' becomes an obstacle in decisions regarding long term care - assisted care, personal care, memory care or a skilled nursing facility. The choice between keeping a loved one in the home and placing them in a long term care facility is never easy. The decision usually comes after much soul searching and many heart to heart conversations - with yourself, your loved one and your family.
But we don't know what the future holds, and promising to 'never' place a loved one in a long term facility is giving both you and your loved one false hope.
There may come a time, when in spite of an earlier promise, your circumstances change and you need to consider long term care. Although as caregiver's we try to be everything to, and for, our loved one; their caregiver, their advocate, and their support. There may come a time when their needs are greater than what we can handle - physically, emotionally, and mentally. We may get to a point where the day-in, day-out care becomes too much. Oftentimes at this point we start to feel resentment and even anger toward our loved one. This is a sign that something needs to change. It's not a healthy situation for either of you.
Deciding What is Best for You and Your Loved One
No matter if your loved one has a progressive chronic disease - Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS - or a sudden onset of a debilitating event, how do you decide what is best for your loved one and for you?
There are many factors that go into deciding what solution is best. The physical safety of both you and your loved one is first and foremost. Caring for another person is physically taxing, especially as they become more and more dependent on you as their disease progresses. Other factors are the emotional and mental components - feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. When you have more sad and resentful days than content and manageable days, something needs to change.
If the decision is a long term care facility, that does not mean we are abandoning our loved one. The very best we can do is to identify and research reputable facilities that will meet the physical and emotional needs of our loved one and promise them that they will not be alone in this journey; you will be with them every step of the way and be with them as often as you are able.
Guilt is a Wasted Emotion
Guilt is a feeling that will many times wash over you. It is an unwelcomed, undeserved, wasted emotion. DO NOT put any energy into it. You have to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. The 'never' might become necessary in the best interests of everyone. If you placed your loved one in a long term care facility because you could no longer provide for their wellbeing without sacrificing your own physical and mental health, it is time to stop judging yourself. Being conscious of your own critical self - judgments can help ease your guilt. You need to trust yourself with the decision you made; knowing that your loved one's health and safety and your own are most important.
Each of our Caregiving Situations Are Different
Each of our caregiving situations is unique. There isn't a 'one size fits all' caregiving scenario. We are all different; we handle stress differently, our relationships with our loved one is different, we each have our own boundaries, we have different tolerance levels, and we all have different things we are responsible for outside of our caregiving role. So a caregiving situation that is acceptable and workable to one person many not be for another. You need to consider what is best for both you and your loved one. As the caregiver you are the only one that knows the answer to that question.