Q: When my father got sick, he rapidly deteriorated and pleaded with me to take care of my mother if he died. After his death, I hired in-home care for my mother and helped as much as possible. This arrangement worked very well for several years. Recently, it became clear she needed a higher level of care, and I had to make the difficult decision to place her in a facility. Now I feel like a failure and have broken a heartfelt promise. How do I deal with this?
A: You are not alone in making this promise during a very emotional time. A pledge was made without a full realization of what the circumstances would be when the time came. We don’t always know exactly what a person’s needs are going to be in the future. Reality has now set in making it clear you tried to make sure your mother was safe, and all her needs were being met. Unfortunately, the previous plan was no longer working. In a sense, your decision to place your mother in a facility was one intended to ensure her wellbeing.
It is doubtful anyone would label you as a “failure.” You made it possible for your mother to remain living in her home as long as possible. While it may not feel like it now, you should be proud of your efforts. Your caregiving role doesn’t end at this point, but it is different. You can continue to provide emotional support and visit when possible, send cards, and call to check on her. It will be essential for your mother to have an advocate and monitor the quality of care provided to her.
It may also be beneficial for you to get involved with a caregiver support group. Many of our caregiver groups are meeting remotely and can provide you with resources to help manage care for your mother. A few of the caregiver options we offer are:
- Family Caregiver Support: This program helps caregivers through the process by providing tools, education, and support to balance caring for their loved ones and themselves. We offer counseling, workshops, support groups, and more.
- Savvy Caregiver Program: Through our Healthy Living Center of Excellence, this 6-week training program is for those who care for someone with Alzheimer’s or Related Dementias.
- TRUALTA: An easy-to-use eLearning platform designed especially for family caregivers and tailored to their situation. Caregivers select topics of interest to them but have access to hundreds of learning modules—with more added each month. This tool is free to use thanks to a grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation.
Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information about our Healthy Living programs and other resources or contact our staff at 1-800-892-0890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.