The decision to move your aging parent into an assisted living facility is never an easy choice. It may be the best care option available, but sometimes you can’t help avoid feeling guilty and worried that they might resent your decision.
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Choosing to move your parents to an assisted living facility is often the result of a senior’s decrease in mobility, decision-making capabilities and ability to perform activities of daily living like needing assitance with eating, bathing, toiletting, dressing up and day to day house chores. The senior’s loss of ability and independence often leads to feelings of helplessness on top of feeling vulnerable and distressed about their changing situation. Usually seniors are hesitant to move to an assisted living because of the fear of having to adjust to a new environment and routine schedule.
With all of this to consider, it is no surprise that so many adult children feel significant guilt after placing their parents in assisted living facilities. It is a common and natural occurrence to wonder if you are doing the right thing, if it was selfish to move your parent from their long-time home or not have them move in with you, or if your parent will resent you for making this difficult senior care decision.
Part of this difficulty comes from the changing dynamic of your relationship with your parent. The parent-child relationship you have known your entire life may have changed significantly at this point, and it can sometimes feel like a complete role reversal. It is likely that you are now making decisions and caring for your parent the same he or she made decisions and cared for you while you were growing up. This is the natural evolution of relationships within families as each generation ages, but nothing quite prepares you for the moment when you must step into the role of being the decision maker or caretaker of your parents.
In most families, the parent is in the role of the strong, all-knowing caregiver who can always be relied upon. They always seem to know what to do and are the first place we turn in times of stress, trouble or confusion. When the parent can no longer maintain that role, it is common for the child to struggle with the loss of normalcy and to experience guilt over the reversal of roles. It is also common for adult children to feel overly responsible for caring for their parents or to feel inadequate after realizing they cannot provide the level of care their parents need.
Both of these can lead to increased feelings of guilt, and the act of relocating your parents to an assisted living facility can feel like a public affirmation that you do not have the ability or loyalty to care for them in their home or your home.
When feelings of guilt arise, it is important that you remind yourself of the important reasons behind your decision to relocate your aging loved one. Elder care decisions are not easy, and this was surely not a decision you came to lightly. Every situation is unique, so your reasons are specific to your circumstances.
These may include not having the ability to meet the changing needs of your parent, not being able to provide the appropriate level of care, or having other family obligations and responsibilities that would interfere with giving your parent the time, attention and care that he or she needs and deserves.
No matter how desperately you may want to do everything possible to keep your parents in their home or find a way to provide the care they need in your home, this is not always a possible option. An aging parent may require specialized care and attention that you are not able to provide or may need more assistance throughout the day than your work schedule will allow. You can only do the best you can with what you have, and choosing assisted living is often the best senior care option.
When these emotions come up and you feel guilty about the elder care decision you have made, remind yourself that just like your parent spent your younger years making the best possible decisions for you based on the information they had and the options available, you made the best possible senior care decision for your parent.
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