As a family caregiver, I have grief over my mom being in a nursing home.

3 answers | Last updated: Mar 20, 2013
Wkcsouthward4 asked...

I have been taking care of my mom since last March 2008. When Mom found out she had colon cancer, she lived with me for ten months and she decided to go on hospice in June 2008. She did have some treatments but could not have surgery due to her having severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The treatments seemed to have worked and stopping her bleeding, but when she moved into a nursing home in March 2009, she has started to bleed again.

She has been bedridden since March 2008 and it began to be hard on me and she was tired of the same four walls and we all decided on her going to a nursing home. Now I just feel so bad. I felt like I was prepared last year when she went into hospice that she would pass away soon, but now since it has been this long I have felt like she was doing OK. Now all those emotions are back. I feel so sad for my mom because she is scared again and I don't know really how to help. I visit her almost daily and do the things that I have done all this time for her but I now think about her passing day in and day out and I know I shouldn't, but how do I stop these emotions? It has been an emotional roller coaster for over a year now. I have been her primary caregiver and she calls on me rather than anyone and that is OK but I feel helpless to help her. Any help will be really appreciated!

Expert Answers

Mikol Davis, PhD has worked in community hospitals with geriatric patients suffering from dementia, depression, and other psychiatric problems. He has a doctorate in Psychology from the University of San Francisco and has been in private practice in Marin County, California. Davis co-founded with his wife, Carolyn Rosenblatt.

Caregiver grief is truely a very lonely place to be. We often dont age or die gracefully. So how do we deal with the challenges of being a caregiver of our aging parents when the final relief of suffering won't just come soon enough? We can't just do it alone, we need help, and must force ourselves to reach out to others. It is clear that you have reached your own personal emotional threshold, when you no longer have the inner resources to offer hope and are felling quite helpless. This is an very important sign that our spirit is revealing to us that our personal responsibility and burden is clearly reducing the quality of our own lives. So, now it's time ask for the help and support you need as a caregiver. The grieving process is quite different for everyone. Often grieving becomes protracted, and when that happens we are challenged to do everything in our power to take better care of our mental and emotional needs. Sometimes caring for your aging parent requires that you get professional support to ensure that you don't get stuck by your own hopeless and helplessness. Please don't wait to contact you family doctor and get a referral to a professional psychologist or mental health practioner that has traveled the grieving road. For mental health links and resources contact your local mental health association. I hope my words help you move forward to both better help yourself, mom would truely want you to do that for her. For additional resources on cargiving check out Carolyn Rosenblatt's latest book, "The Boomers Guide to Aging Parents, The Complete Guide."


Dr. Mikol Davis

Community Answers

The practical expert answered...

I went through a similar situation. I was able to care for my mom at home until her death but while caring for dad, it got to a point where I just couldn't anymore and he went into a nursing home.

Lessons learned:

If you are doing your best, than why beat yourself up over it. Realize your limitations, that you've done the best you can and continue what you can do. But you are human we often are our own worst enemies.

Realize now that you get to be your parent's child again, instead of the caregiver. Be the adult child, savor it and relish your relationship with your parent as long as possible. Without being the primary caregiver, you now have an even better role to play for both of you to remember.

Realize that your parent is going to die and that then there will be no more pain and she will be in a much better place. By joyful for that. Realize too that your life has centered around your role as caregiver for a long time and that now you have to think about starting a different chapter in your life - not easy nor always pleasant but necessary.

Accept that you've done a great job, that you can help make the end as pleasant as possible and relish your relationship. But also plan for tomorrow, even if it's only thoughts, put some of those thoughts down on paper.

Wishing you the best.

Momsgirl answered...

My brother & sister could have continued helping with our mom, they live in her home, but said she needed too much and they had to work full time. Three people living there and they felt like they'd be too confined. So In 2/05/05 I took mom in, just me and raising a grandson. It became so hard. She was demanding and refused her meds. Then she had a mini stroke. That forced me to place her in an assisted living facility. It was hard, but I knew she'd get the help and more one on one that I could do. She was paralyzed for several months. I spent every day out there until she was able to get up and about. I continued this up til 3/23/10 when she became very ill and I took her to ER. Found out her kidneys were not working and she had colon cancer. She died on March 31, 2010. I have no regrets. Don't feel bad. Be at peace knowing you loved your mom and YOU were always there and she knew YOU loved her.