09 Sep 2019

Managing Carer Guilt After Placing A Loved One In A Care Facility

Managing Carer Guilt After Placing A Loved One In A Care Facility

You may have known for a while that your loved one required additional care, and that the care you were providing them with was no longer enough to meet their needs. Despite knowing that it was time for your loved one to transition into a care home, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel any better about it or that you are finding the new arrangement any easier to cope with.

You are most probably feeling guilty about the new arrangement that you have in place, but the fact is that you’ve made a choice that is better for your loved one, so there’s nothing to feel guilty about. However, struggling with feelings of guilt is perfectly normal after placing a loved one in a care facility.

It is very common for care givers to feel like they should have done more - but it’s important to try and manage your feelings of guilt and learn to understand why making the choice that you made was necessary.

Wondering what you can do to manage your feelings of guilt and move forward? Have a read of the tips and ideas below!

Identify what’s causing your feelings of guilt

A large number of family carers who make the hard decision to move a loved one - parent, sibling, grandparent, or aunt or uncle - into a care facility may feel like they haven’t done enough, and as if they have let the person down. This type of negative thinking leads to feelings of guilt and shame, when it really shouldn’t do.

It’s easy to fall into the ‘rabbit hole’ of guilt, but it’s important to instead try to focus on being positive. Consider the reasons why you started thinking about professional care to begin with and focus on those factors. No matter how much you love someone, you cannot always take care of them properly, especially when you have a life of your own to live - a job to do and a family to raise.

The fact is that whatever the reason why you chose to put your loved on into a professional care facility, there’s no blame. Your loved one probably needed specialised care - care that you were unable to provide - which a care home could offer, improving their quality of life.

Experts in guilt say that guilt is often caused by thinking in an unrealistic way about the fact that we can control every aspect of what is happening in a loved one’s life, when actually that isn’t the case. There are certain factors that sadly, we have no control over, and it’s important to realise that.

Realising that you cannot control everything can be a ‘hard pill to swallow’ but ultimately, by realising that, you will learn that as you cannot control everything, you can’t determine how much care a loved one requires.

If you find yourself feeling angry, upset or frustrated about having to put a loved one into a care home, it’s important to find a positive way to deal with your feelings. Perhaps you could talk to another family member who understands what you’re going through or maybe to a friend? If there’s no one who understands, perhaps you could share your feelings with a counselor or therapist?

Often, once you share a concern that you have out loud, it actually becomes less stressful and upsetting. You may find that once you have spoken about the thing that is bothering you, that feelings of guilt will start to melt away.

Learn to handle being guilt tripped

Obviously, the entire process of managing feelings of guilt becomes even more complex when you are being guilt tripped by the person who you have put into a care home. If a loved one is trying to make you feel guilty about putting them into a care environment, it’s extremely easy to feel overwhelmed with guilt and stress. Have you done the right thing? Are you at fault? Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of blaming yourself - try to remain positive about the entire situation.

The fact is you’ve made a decision that you feel is beneficial for everyone, because it means that your loved one is getting the best care. The fact that you are being guilt tripped is unfortunate, but don’t let it sway your judgement. If your loved one is trying to make you change your mind by guilt tripping you, you can feel as if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but you need to focus on why you made the choice that you did in the first place. Your loved one needs care that - for one reason or another - you are not able to offer them, and for this reason a care home is the best place for them.

It’s important to remember that your loved one is most probably just lashing out and as time goes by and they adjust to their new living situation, they will mellow. Moving to assisted living is a big life change, so it’s no wonder that your loved one is struggling with the change. If you want to move things forward and stop the arguing with your loved one, it’s a good idea to validate how they are feeling. Take the time to listen to what they have to say and validate the way in which they are feeling. Let them know that you are there to support them and help them, and that just because their address has changed, that doesn’t mean that your relationship will change.

There you have it, everything that you should know about dealing with feelings of guilt after having no choice but to put a loved one in a care facility. It might not be easy to accept that your loved one requires a different kind of care, but if that’s what they need then it’s the right choice for them.

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