How will I ever get over the guilt I feel for placing my mother in a nursing home?

Crystalslayer asked...

My mom has been in the nursing home now for 3 days. I am riddled with guilt, I cry all the time when I am home alone, wondering did I do the right thing. Every time I go to see her she wants me to take her home, it breaks my heart, I have to lie to her all the time. I feel like I have taken every thing away from her. How do you ever get over something like this. Its tearing me apart?

Expert Answer

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

I am assuming you placed your mother in the nursing home because you could no longer care for her at home. Possibly, she was living in her own home, and now needs more assistance. Either way, you are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt.

If your mom has dementia, usually it is the "behavioral" issues such as wandering away, toileting needs, or even combative behaviors that precede the placement. Also, with dementias like Alzheimer's disease, the resident (your mom) may not even remember who the other family members are, the "new" environment is not familiar, and may start asking to be taken home. All of this is especially trying for family members.

If any of the foregoing is true, it is natural for you to be struggling. I would suggest you discuss your feelings with the social worker at the nursing home and be kept informed in what is happening on a day-to-day schedule for your mom. Participate in her care if possible. And especially, try to concentrate on the fact your mom is cared for, safe, and not alone.

Remember, too, it is never easy to become the "parent" of your parent. Take comfort in the fact you are doing the best you can for your mom.