Just this week my Mom has been admitted to a nursing home. We just lost my Dad a month ago. Even though his Alzheimers was quite advanced, he still managed to be Mom's caregiver. They were married 63 years. Mom has never been able to be alone even for one night, has some form of dementia, is grieving and now dealing with being put in the nursing home. She doesn't know why she is there because she thinks she is fine. She looks very young and fit but can't remember much of anything. I don't understand how she couldn't know what is going on with herself. She is like a child and I feel very responsible for her. I know she would like to live with my husband and I but we are almost 60 & 70 ourselves and I have just retired and we are hoping to do some travelling. Our lives have been totally consumed by Mom & Dad's needs since last summer. When I see her so confused and helpless in the nursing home I feel extremely sad and guilty too because I can't deal with her living with us. I don't think she has much will to go on either since Dad died. How does a person ever overcome the feeling of guilt and saddness at seeing not one but both parents decline to this stage and wondering if the decisions we made for Dad and now are making for Mom are the right ones. Mom & Dad have always been a big part of our lives so we are naturally grieving ourselves. I feel so burdened. I know other people go through the same things and seem to be able to carry on with their own lives. I would appreciate and help or advice anyone might have.
You overcome the guilt by looking at the situation logically and not letting emotions guide your thinking. When my mother got Dementia, it was my greatest wish to keep her at home with me and not 'put her in a home.' I thought I was doing it for her, because she would be happier and not as confused and not under so much stress if she stayed in her familiar apartment where I lived with her for 5 years.
Now I wish we had allowed her to be in a good nursing home at least 1 year and maybe even 2 years earler, because it turned out that living at home was far more stressful for her than livng in a nursing home. I was still working at that time, and Mom was alone much of the day. I didn't know that she was wandering around the neighborhood (in Queens, NY) looking for her house, was becoming unpopular at the senior center where she went because of her bizarre behavor, was being taken advantage of by a bank where they tried to sell a 95 year old woman a long term annuity, was unable to decide what to wear every day and so was going out in the winter with summer clothes on, and a million more examples. When we got a home health aide to stay with her while I was at work, she felt like a prisoner and didn't accept at all the idea of having 'a stranger in the house'. I had no idea she was under so much stress and pressure, believing she was glad to have choices, glad to be taken out to the senior center to be among other people, etc.
When she finally did land in a NH after a fall and broken hip, she became so much happier! Someone came in and washed and dressed her every morning, gave her food and helped her eat it (I had still been under the delusion that preparing her own food was good for her) and above all she was safe. She could also relax and stop trying to convince us all that there was nothing wrong with her. It took a few months to adjust, but now she feels entirely at home there. I must add that the nurses and aides are exceptionally loving and caring.
So - don't feel that you did anything against your Mom's best interest; on the contrary, allowing her to be a resident in a NH was the best thing you could do for her - she is safe, warm, properly dressed, given her medicines without having to remember to take them, examined by a staff doctor once a week and any infections nipped in the bud, has the company of other people if she wants it, and is free of the stress of having to make choices.
Irene.....Martha is so right in her encouragement that you have done what is right for your mother! All of us who have placed a loved one in a facility had the same guilty feelings you are having...those long rides home from visits were always tearful at first, but after a time we knew the decision was right for both mom and the family. (I still have such respect for those trying to cope with this disease by themselves...)
I am so sorry for the loss of your father...and then to "loose" you mother so quickly has to be very challenging! My family is so fortunate the facility where my own mother is has such excellent staff. I've noticed that "new" clients who are still in early stages are often encouraged to help with daily kitchen duties (setting table, etc.)...and soon they think this place is actually their own home. You'll find good information that will be helpful here...we're all in the same sinking boat. ......Pam