Your parents raised you. They took care of you. They helped you when you needed help. But you can't do it. You can't take care of them the way you'd like to. They're becoming more frail. They're getting sick more often. You're worried that they might fall. And they can't keep up with home maintenance like they did when they were younger. Your lawn is not getting mowed because you're mowing the lawn at your parents' house.
Sometimes, they become confused or frightened, and they call you. You've had to leave business meetings, missed your grandkids' recitals, and missed dinner with your spouse.
This can't go on much longer. You're stressed to the breaking point. You swore to your parents that you would never put them in a nursing home. But they're not safe at home, and you can't do it any more.
Caregiver guilt is prevalent, according to Alexis Abramson, a gerontologist. Although the situation may not be under control, he advises caregivers to control how they react.
When caregiving becomes too much, caregivers need to take the pressure off themselves, he advocates. They need to involve others, either by enlisting siblings or exploring alternative living arrangements.
After investigating their options, many caregivers choose Assisted Living as the best one for their parents for the following reasons:
- Assisted Living is not a nursing home.
- Assisted Living communities promote independence, socialization, and wellness.
- Assisted Living is affordable.
That doesn't stop the guilt though.
Kay Paggi, a geriatric care manager, says you haven't failed your parents. By moving your parents to Assisted Living, you are ensuring they receive the best care and the most opportunities for living a full life possible.
Surely, you would feel more guilty if your mother fell down and broke a hip.
And it's not just your parents' health that should concern you. Caregivers who become overwhelmed suffer mental and physical health issues, according to Dr. Keith L. Black, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.
How would you keep caring for them if you're too sick to care for yourself?
When your parent moves into an Assisted Living community, it's important to continue your role as caretaker. Reassure her that you will always be there for her, advises Paggi.
She suggested that reassurance can take several forms:
- Visit frequently, whether in person, by phone or email
- Attend community events with your parent
- Schedule family events and celebrations at the community if possible
- Schedule a jewelry or make-up party with your mother as hostess at the community
In most cases, after a brief period of orientation, parents begin to meet new people and attend activities offered at Assisted Living communities. Staff members introduce them to other residents and encourage them to attend activities.
"Because of your great activities program, he has returned to painting, loves the exercise class, and looks forward to baking for the different fundraising events. The staff has included him in flower planting, herb gardening, picture taking, and many other things," noted Kathy Wallace, whose father lives at Arbors at Greenfield.