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Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

Last post 08-24-2012 6:25 AM by KathRbrts. 8 replies.
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  • 02-12-2008 2:07 PM

    Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision


    Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    "When I first asked my mother to move her answer was a definite ‘No!'" Lynn D. remembers. "To her leaving her home meant abandoning her life, including the memory of her time with my father. Even though I believe the change was absolutely for the best, I couldn't force her to leave that memory. After all, it's been fifteen years since my father died and I still miss him everyday. How could I do that to her?

    "Plus, my mother‘s mind is starting to fail her. Would moving her into a new situation mean that she would lose all reminders of my father? Was being this cruel a risk I was willing to take? I even wrestled with whether I had my mother's best interest in mind sometimes. I experienced constant confusion."

    Lynn made the elder care decision to relocate her mother after an incident at the hospital.

    "My mother had fallen and broken her hip. She was sitting up in her bed when she made a fist and pulled her hand back suddenly, her target the unsuspecting medical aide who had called her ‘honey.' ‘Mother!' I said firmly. She struck me instead.

     This article continues at Coping with Guilt over an Elder Care Decision.

  • 04-03-2008 12:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    Another issue that I find continually when family as caregivers are coping with the guilt is that they forget what their own limitations are both physically and emotionally. All too often I hear the caregiving spouse state, "I'm so exhausted I just don't know how much longer I can go on with this". "I'm at my wit's end and feel like I'm spiraling out of control". "My OWN health is deteriorating and I'm so stressed worrying about him". Just recently, a caregiver stated that when his wife balled up her fist to hit him, he almost hit her back because he's at HIS breaking point. I also experienced an incredibly difficult situation when family members expressed that their dad was taking care of their mom who suffered from severe Parkinsons. Both parents were in their early 80's and the caregiving dad had a heart attack while trying to help his wife with her shower. She fell to the shower floor, he was unconscious on the floor next to her and he soon perished. They layed there on the bathroom floor for several hours until their neighbor found them that evening. I coach families daily about the necessity of taking care of themselves and understanding and accepting their limitations. They also have to understand their limitations in order to provide the safest, healthiest and most nurturing environment for their loved one.

    A question I ask my clients that sometimes helps put into perspective the "guilt" that they are experiencing is this: "How would you feel if something happened to Dad while you were caring for him during a time when you were so physically and emotionally drained that you KNEW you weren't able to provide the best possible care for him?" At that point the decision becomes a crisis based decision which compounds and magnifies the fear, confusion and often times miscommunication amongst other family members.

    Be prepared, informed, clear and consistant on what the needs for your loved one will be. Talk with the counselors here on this site, speak with doctors and other care professionals and be informed. Research and decide on a particular care facility and/or outside care options AHEAD of time when it's not a crisis based decision. Have several options for future care available. Decide on a plan A and a plan B for care. Seek out support groups for caregivers in your area. Know your limitations and accept that often times the best care you can provide for your loved one is not always going to come from you....and that's perfectly OK.


  • 04-04-2008 8:40 AM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    This was very good, Vickie.  I intend to use it in the future.  Thanks,

  • 04-10-2008 1:39 AM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    Thank you for this, Vickie! Great advice!

  • 08-12-2008 5:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    A possible cure for guilt

    Respite: A break, breather, relief, let-up

    Guilt is something we hear about all the time; Guilt that you don’t spend enough time with mom, Guilt that you spend too much time with mom, Guilt that you are doing things with mom that you don’t want to do or don’t like doing. It goes on and on.

    Quality time is an answer. Do the things you want to do and can do. Consider the possibility of a “respite” from the others by hiring an in-home care professional company to give you a break.

    Spending time with Mom vacuuming my not be what you consider quality time. The option is to have someone else do the chores you dislike that may be adding to guilt about visiting mom. Take her out to church, the park a movie, the mall, it is better for her and may be surprisingly rewarding and guilt free to you as well.

    To eliminate real guilt, check references, get recommendations, talk to more than one provider.

    John Moore


  • 09-06-2008 10:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    In a world where far too many line up to cast the first stone, irrespective of their own peccadilloes, "guilt" gets a bad rap.  Yet, we instinctively know that guilt commends itself when it is a product of soulful reflection and the catalyst for intentional improvement (not to be confused with vainly striving for perfection).

    On the other hand, guilt which is misplaced, instead of prompting our betterment, fosters frustration, resentment, and anger; it certainly does not alleviate care-giving tensions and failures.  We can avoid misplaced guilt in two ways:

    1. When we bravely reject the secondary gains we seek or derive out of becoming martyrs; and, as more often is the case,
    2. When we thoughtfully distinguish feeling "bad" about a situation from feeling "sad" about a situation.  "Bad" connotes doing something wrong, like violating a commitment; "sad," not being able to do what we hoped we could, or taking to heart a loss over which we have no genuine control.

    Rabbi Scott Saulson, PhD, offers counseling, mediation, and support to care-givers and care-receivers, alike.

  • 12-23-2008 6:05 AM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    Boy, could I ever identify with this situation!!  Because of my years of hands on experience caring for my mother (who had dementia) and my father (who suffered a stroke) I was recently asked to speak to a local caregiver's group on the topic of dealing with guilt and altered lifestyles.  At the group members' request I posted a copy of the speech on my blog and invite anyone who is interested to view it.  It's called TLC and can be found at:



  • 02-12-2012 11:22 AM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    I idolize you for being a good daughter to your parents. It is true that sometimes being a caregiver do stinks. However, when we remember how our parents took care of us when we were young, our hearts melt and we wanted to return the love and care they always give to us.

    - carepoint

  • 08-24-2012 6:25 AM In reply to

    Re: Article: Coping With The Guilt Over An Elder Care Decision

    It's really hard to convince an elderly to move out especially if the memory starts to fail. You need to take your time in convincing them and giving them assurance that they will be more comfortable in facilities. It would also help if you can bring them along in long term care facilities so that they can see the kind of environment they will soon have and they can choose what facility they want to move in.
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