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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published July 17 2011

Bursack: Readers support caregiver’s decision

Dear Carol: How do I live with the guilt of putting my mother in a nursing home? How do I stop crying? I am an only child and not from this community. I can’t care for my mom alone, but I feel like I did the worst thing for her. I didn’t know what else to do. – Suzanne

Dear Suzanne: There is no need to feel guilty for finding your mom a safe environment where she is getting good care. If you aren’t happy with the care she is getting, that’s a different issue, but the tone of your note doesn’t sound as though that is the case.

Because guilt over placing a parent in a nursing home is such a common issue, I thought I’d pass on some wisdom from readers who’ve communicated to me how they have coped with the decision.

“Years ago, nursing homes had a bad reputation. Now, with more care options and the many changes in nursing home vision, most of them are much better. My mom fought the change when she moved into a nursing home, but is now happier than she’d been in years. We have time to have fun together.” – Jonelle

“Since my mom went to a good nursing home, she is much happier than when she was at home. She feels independent, secure, and is more social. She loves the entertainment, and the staff. I am almost sad sometimes that she doesn’t need me as much as she used to. Go figure.” – Dana

“I don’t feel guilty because I stay focused on Mom’s care and try to partner with the staff. I tell her nurses about my observations, and that helps with her care. When I visit, I’m never sure how I’ll be received, but Mom has Alzheimer’s so that is the disease. At this point, I am just glad to see her safe and getting good care.” – Davis

“I try to look at this time as a new beginning. I embrace the help I chose for my mom and try to make the most of it by being part of the team. Getting help has enabled me to remain her daughter rather than just having time to be her caregiver.” – Mavis

Suzanne, I hope the input from these caregivers helps you. Over time, my family had to use the help of an excellent local nursing home for five elders. With nursing home help, I could make myself the daily errand runner, visitor, listener and when necessary, medical advocate. While each situation is different, I still believe we made the best choice for our elders’ unique needs.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com.