Caregiver Confidence

Don't Be Afraid to Make a Mistake


One of the difficult parts of eldercare is that most of us have little training or experience with it. That's why many family caregivers find themselves terrified of making the wrong move or a wrong decision that will make things worse for their loved one.

These three rules of thumb can help bring peace of mind:

1. A well-intentioned decision is usually a good one.

Why this is smart thinking: Good intentions tend to be backed up by love and caring. There's seldom a "perfect" decision or absolute "right" answer when it comes to most aspects of caregiving. There are too many variables for one-size-fits-all answers to most questions about the best therapy, living situation, medical choice, and so on.

2. There's no such thing as a dumb question.

Why this is smart thinking: Asking for help in areas that are unfamiliar to you helps you to make a more informed decision. Bring in the opinions of doctors, a geriatric care manager, relatives, or other interested parties to help you weigh tough choices. Asking questions like, "What would you do if it were your mother?" or "What am I not considering so far?" invite thoughtful answers.

Casting a wide net for answers brings clarity. If you find yourself getting confused by diverging views, ask for help in organizing or narrowing the options.

3. Trust your gut.

Why this is smart thinking: Ultimately, you're the decider about many matters. Don't discount that little voice in your head (or heart) that's speaking to you. Following your instincts might not agree with conventional wisdom, but it's probably coming from a place of truth deep within you.

Don't blame yourself if there seems to be a setback or change. True, it might be related to your decision, but then again, it might have happened anyway. Another truism that goes along with caregiving decision making is that you can't control everything. No matter what you do or don't do, say or don't say, events will unfold. But by making your decisions thoughtfully and considerately, you can rest easier knowing you did your best.


over 3 years ago, said...

Thank you so much for this article. Self confidence is difficult as well as sometimes feeling the need to try to be perfect for some reason. We have enough to worry about just doing the best we can for our loved ones.


over 3 years ago, said...

yep...you nailed it


over 3 years ago, said...

Just the confidence you are trying to do your best for your loved one and yourself.


over 3 years ago, said...

I find myself saying, what's the kids going to think about this or that about how I care for my precious lady, their Mom. There are times, lots of them, that we have to make a decision on the spot, and also....trusting you gut is really good advise, you're there, you know the situation, and you have to act, ...no time to call anyone..... but it's hard for family to understand that sometimes.... but don't apologize, life has to go on, and you have to be in charge.


over 4 years ago, said...

i cannot make suggestions at this time since this is the first time I have visited your site. I am not completely sure just what we are dealing with at this time. Hopefully will get more answers when we visit his doctor this week. I am looking for a good neurologist in this area. We had one but he retired, closed private practice to go into research - so are looking for another one. Everything needs a referral it seems. Wish us luck.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thank you for the many wonderful comments on this article! For the discussion about nursing homes, here are some resources on Caring.com you may find helpful: 1.) directory of local nursing homes in the U.S., including consumer ratings & reviews: http://www.caring.com/local/nursing-homes 2.) nursing home and assisted living Q&A: http://www.caring.com/ask/nursing-homes-assisted-living-and-more-questions 3.) Online support groups (to share experiences and get insights from others facing similar challenges): http://www.caring.com/support-groups If these suggestions don't provide enough guidance, consider posting a question in Ask & Answer for a response from experts and other members of the community: http://www.caring.com/questions/new Thanks!


over 4 years ago, said...

Thank you for you replies I am being blocked by a Judge in that county, If I make any complaints I will lose my visitings right. I did go to to department of aging and ombudsman and I was told I am not allowed to complain. I am waiting for another hearing with the judge I had petition the court back in September of 2011 for guardianship and others petition the court the day before the hearing the judge said we would have another hearing it is now 6months later and nothing and things are not good I wish I knew the families to the patients. What ever advise you could give would be appreciated. I do have an attorney things are not moving I am at my wits end.


over 4 years ago, said...

Also to anonymous regarding nursing home. Here is a website that will list state ombudsman, in case you don't know how to find the info. http://memberofthefamily.net/ombudsmen.htm. Good luck. I'm preparing myself for my dad to go into a home.


over 4 years ago, said...

In reply to anonymous concerned about the care her Mom is receiving care in the Nursing Home. I'm not sure who is blocking you from access to your Mom if you complain, but if it's the personnel at the home, you need to contact the ombudsman in your area about the care and the access. An Ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate complaints regarding the care of those entrusted to them. If another family member is in charge of her care, etc., they may feel that you are interfering and causing them problems with the home. If you are on good terms with this person, speak directly to them with your concerns. Otherwise, you may have to contact an attorney about your rights, concerning the quality your Mom's care, and being barred from the facility.. Too many complaints from family members may lead to the family member being discharged and the person responsible will have to locate another facility willing to take your Mom.


over 4 years ago, said...

Your articles are very helpful. It is a true fact some Nursing facilities have resources, but not the will to do the work.


over 4 years ago, said...

I have a question, I visit my Mom who is a Nursing Home I am not allowed to complain about anything regarding the Nursing Home care of residence or I won't get to see Mom. Meal time for the patients is terrible some don't get to eat. What can I do?? any suggestion if I make a complaint I am blocked from seeing Mom, please help


over 4 years ago, said...

Making decisions for my Mom who has dementia is difficutl, because she agrees to follow plans but doesn't not follow through (even though she can, she chooses not to). Her Alz. specialist told me that it is an art to learn when our "plans" for her that optimize her safey and longevity may not be in the best interest of her quality of life, and that too much control may make her give up totally. He told us we sometimes need to compromise "optimal" if it improves her mood substantailly and does not harm her acutely or anyone else.


over 4 years ago, said...

I just made one of those decisions that are from intuition this morning. In response to that we are in the process of transferring my husband to Hospice Care. 5 hours later I am still feeling that it was the decision to make. My husband has eaten a small amount for his late breakfast, drank some milk and has been resting in his recliner. Don't be afraid to step out and act. Kate9373


over 4 years ago, said...

The concept to follow your instincts was right on for me several times. I knew my mother needed a different facility where she would receive more attention and personal care and I found such a place. There were several workers that I developed a liking for that I knew took the same care when I was or was not there to observe. The place with less patients which should have exhibited better care did not. They had the ability but not the will.


over 4 years ago, said...

This article helped me realize that not everything I do is going to be the best alternative for my cancer stricken sister, but I have resources that I can use to help me make better, more informed decisions when the time arises.


over 4 years ago, said...

Unlike parenting which has many years of advise, literature, happy book, and the like deposited on young mothers for up to 9 months before the blessed event - we don't even get the opportunity to wade into care giving. For me one day I was living my happy life about to go in a Mexican vacation and the very next day, instead, I was bringing my 86y/o FIL to live with us requiring full time care. :-(


over 4 years ago, said...

I read many of the articles posted here and find them all helpful--clear, well-researched, bulleted for easy retention and reading, and full of good info. Thanks.