Are you a caregiver transitioning a loved one into assisted living? Are you wrestling with feelings of guilt? If so, please remember that you are not alone. Making this decision is far from easy, but if you want your loved one to live the best quality of life possible and receive the care they need, it sometimes becomes necessary. Maybe you have come to this decision little by little. Or there could have been an illness or injury that has forced you to make this decision quickly. No matter which scenario led you to this point, it’s important not to beat yourself up. This can often be easier said than done, but we’ve provided some tips that can help you cope, and move through your guilt.
1. Acknowledge your emotions
Acknowledging and identifying your emotions is often the first step to working your way through the guilt you’re feeling. Recognize that it is normal and ok to feel the way you do, but also give yourself some grace during this time. Acknowledging and identifying the emotions surrounding this difficult decision is not the same as berating yourself over the decision.
It’s also important to know that guilt can come in many forms. You may feel angry, sad, or both. You may bounce back and forth between these emotions and a feeling of relief…and then feel guilty all over again for feeling relieved. This can form a vicious cycle—but it’s a cycle that can be broken with a little time and patience.
Remind yourself that the decision to move a loved one into assisted living, while not easy, will mean that they can receive around the clock care, supervision, and opportunities for socialization. There will be a whole team of caring individuals looking out for their well-being, leading to a better quality of life.
2. Do your research
Once you have come to the decision that it is time for a loved one to enter assisted living, do your research! Facilities can vary greatly. Some may offer more amenities than others or have a significantly different caregiver to patient ratio. It’s important to choose a place that both you and a loved one can feel good about. One of the best ways to figure out if a place will be the right fit is to visit and take a tour. Talk to the staff, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
At Loretto, we strongly encourage individuals and their families to come and visit so they can see what we have to offer, and speak to our dedicated staff. Considering that this could potentially be a loved one’s new home, they (and you) have every right to feel good about it.
3. Find new ways to show you care
If you’ve dedicated much of your time to caring for a loved one, it’s only natural to feel lost after they enter assisted living, or feel that you’ve “abandoned” them. This shouldn’t be the case! There are plenty of ways to show that you care. Visit often, and if they’re able, plan special outings with them. Come and watch a TV show, read from a favorite novel, or reminisce over fun family photographs.
All of these activities can help you and your loved one feel more connected, and show them that you’re still a presence they can count on. It can also help give you a continued sense of purpose as a caregiver, eliminating that feeling of guilt, and creating a win-win situation for everyone.
Communication is key—for both you and your loved one. Having another family member or close friend to talk to can be a welcome outlet if you’re feeling down. Don’t be afraid to seek out caregiver support groups either! These can be online or in person. It can help to know that you’re not the only one in this situation.
You can also help communicate the needs of your loved one. Just because you aren’t their sole caregiver anymore doesn’t mean that you can’t be an advocate for them and their needs. If you have any concerns, or they have requests that could make them more comfortable in their new setting, don’t be afraid to communicate them.
5. Don’t put your life on hold
As your loved one enters assisted living, it isn’t just a transition for them, it’s a transition for you too. It may feel strange to go from days filled to the brim with caregiving responsibilities to having stretches of time to yourself. You shouldn’t feel guilty about this time. Instead, use it to pursue a passion or interest you may have had to set aside when you became a family caregiver. Think of it this way: Chances are your loved one would be wanting you to live your life to the fullest, not wasting these moments feeling down or angry.
If you are a caregiver in need of support, or have a family member who needs more advanced care, Loretto can help! We have 19 specialized programs and facilities, and over 2,500 dedicated caregivers. We believe in taking a holistic approach to care, which means addressing the mind, body, and spirit of the individuals who come to us. Let us help you find the programs and services that will best serve you or a loved one. Contact us today!