The decision to place a loved one in an assisted living facility is a difficult but frequently unavoidable one. Even though choice may be absolutely necessary, person forced to make decision for their spouse or parent often feels an overwhelming sense of guilt.
When time came for me to decide to place my mother, who suffers from Parkinsonís disease, into assisted living, I knew as a nurse that it was best decision for both my mother and me. All same, I felt an enormous amount of guilt, and when I came home after helping my mother move into her new community; I broke down, sobbing.
Today I work as a marketing counselor for facility where my mother lives Ė so I see her every day and know firsthand that she receives excellent care Ė yet there are still times when I fail to hold back tears.
Many caretakers who decide to put their loved one in an assisted living facility think they have failed them somehow, even if they have already spent years caring for them and simply cannot do so any more. I had been taking care of my mother for three years before bringing her to live in a long-term care community, helping her with daily tasks and spending every other night at her house. I even managed to make it a family effort, with my son easing much of burden during his summers home from college. My mother did not want to leave her home, and I did all I could to see that she would not have to leave.
But eventually that time came. In a fall my mother broke her foot, but she hid injury from me. A fall like my motherís is especially worrisome because Parkinsonís is an incurable disease which progressively and inevitably gets worse. Patients are often able to minimize ill effects of disease for a time, but eventually they will require frequent or constant assistance from a caregiver. My motherís fall was a sure sign that she could no longer live on her own. When her doctor discovered that her foot was broken, he told her this in no uncertain terms. Now it became my responsibility to help her find a new home, and though part of me wanted to take care of her just as she had taken care of me as a child, I knew that I did not have capability to care for her as her Parkinsonís progressed.
In some respects my mother and I have been fortunate, in that she was aware of her doctorís instruction and conscious of reasons for entering an assisted living facility. Children and spouses of Alzheimerís patients, on other hand, must bear full weight of responsibility when choosing option of assisted living, though many spend months or even years denying this fact. Usually, when it comes time to seek out an assisted living facility for an Alzheimerís patient, that patient has already reached an advanced stage of disease and likely exhibits a number of disturbing symptoms. If caregiver has decided that it is time to consider assisted living, patient may already be in need of help with dressing, shaving, eating, and even using bathroom. Perhaps patient has become delusional, convinced for instance that caregiver wishes to harm them. These are all common symptoms of Alzheimerís disease, and, like Parkinsonís, such symptoms will only get progressively worse. Recognizing that a patient whose Alzheimerís has reached such a stage and may need to enter an assisted living facility is positive. Unfortunately, I have met many people who think they can convince their parent or spouse of their need to enter an assisted living community, when in fact it is only children or spouse of Alzheimerís patients who can ultimately make decision.