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

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 Answer

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