One of the hardest decisions that caregivers must make is whether to place a loved one in a care home. Often, family members intend to care for their parent or grandparent at home, but then find that it is not possible. This could be because they were not aware of how much care the person would need or because their condition has worsened, and it is not possible to continue care at home.
Sometimes, this decision is made by a single caregiver. Other times, an entire family will weigh in on this decision before deciding that it is what is in their best interest. This decision may take place over several weeks or may be made in a moment’s notice, which is often the case if a relative’s condition drastically worsens. Caregivers often debate this decision for an extended period before reaching a final decision.
After the move, caregivers will experience a range of emotions, including guilt. It is common for them to feel guilty when they have enjoyable experiences without their loved one. Another common time that caregivers feel guilty is when they think of things that one on one care provided, such as a more comfortable bed. It is important for caregivers to enjoy their lives, though, and to realize the many benefits that care homes can provide that one on one care cannot. Remembering those things and following these tips will help ease those feelings of guilt.
Understand the Quality of Care Will Improve
One on one care is wonderful for some aging adults, but many seniors require care around the clock. Seniors need a team of nurses to remind them to take their medication and a doctor on call to help. At a care home, loved ones will be surrounded by people that are trained to provide them with the care that they need regardless of the time. They will never have to use their Fanmi phone to call a nurse hotline for advice again.
Care homes also provide a level of experience that most family members do not have. Nurses typically know how to prevent common concerns, such as bed sores, to help loved ones be more comfortable. Nursing staff may also know several things about a loved one’s condition that are not common knowledge, such as side effects that go hand in hand with dementia.
Fully Equipped Facility
Care homes are fully equipped to provide loved ones with all the assistance that they need. Shower chairs are available or can be readily purchased. Most bathrooms already have handrails in addition to call lights in case a senior needs assistance. A fully equipped kitchen and staff can meet any dietary restrictions that may be in place. Not only are care homes equipped to handle this, they are accustomed to this level of care.
Caregivers Matter Too
One of the most common causes of caregiver burnout is a caregiver attempting to do everything themselves. This results in burn out, health problems and can breed resentment. To avoid this, caregivers often seek professional help to assist them in providing care. Moving a loved one into a nursing home is often a necessity for caregivers to take care of themselves and their family. It is the same as asking for professional help in a home care setting, but it involves moving a loved one.
Don’t Feel Defeated
One of the hardest feelings that caregivers have to combat is the feeling of utter defeat. When caregivers move a loved one into a care home, they often feel that they have failed. This is not the case. Caregivers are only one person, which makes it unrealistic to compare a single caregiver to an entire team of staff at a care home. Also, caregivers are encouraged to remind themselves that they made a decision that was in their loved one’s best interest. It does not mean that they have failed. It means that they have succeeded in ensuring that their parent receives an appropriate level of care, which is what they need.
Continue to Oversee Care
Caregivers often remain an important part of the team after a loved one is moved into a care home. They can speak with doctors and nurses to make sure that the patient is being properly cared for, for example. Family members can also go to care homes to help care for their loved one. They can give them sponge baths, help them to the bathroom or assist in feeding them just like they used to. When caregivers continue to help provide care, they often feel less guilty about the move. Family members can also provide loved ones with their own senior phone so that they can call them for help if there is a problem with the care that they are receiving.
Build a Different Relationship
Often, caregivers build a relationship with loved ones that is centered around their care. Topics of conversation typically include:
- Medication changes
- When to take medication
- Doctors appointments
- The current illness or disease
- New symptoms or side effects
Over time, caregivers build a relationship around bath time and medication routines, which is far from what most family members envision when they strive to take care of a loved one. Enjoy someone else taking care of the medical aspect of care and reframe a relationship around positive memories. Visit regularly, take gifts and enjoy watching television together instead. If visits are not possible, pick up the phone to give them a call. Caregivers often find that they are fonder of these memories later.
Give it Time
It is common for caregivers to experience a sense of grief and loss after moving a loved one into a care home. Often, it takes weeks or months for one to come to terms with this decision. Many people experience relief, guilt, grief and sadness in cycles before finally accepting their decision. Acknowledge feelings and seek professional help from a licensed grief therapist if necessary.
Combatting the guilt associated with moving a loved one into a care home often starts as soon as the decision is made. Acknowledging the range of emotions that are being felt, appreciating the benefits of care homes and attempting to remain positive through this difficult time will help family members find the comfort that they need.