Jun 09, 2015 - 10:51 AM
The guilt of making a decision to place a loved one in the care of another person is extremely difficult. I meet with families every day who are in various stages of the roller coaster of emotion. Honestly, I could write you a novel on the particulars.
There have been a few considerations that have helped families over the years:
- Is it better now for your wife to be trusted to the care of trained professionals?
- Placing your wife, after FULLY vetting the communities you are considering, is another chapter in her care. In many ways it is a new beginning. It is not, however, the end.
- The decision will be no easier whether you make it today, tomorrow, two weeks ago or a year from now. Ultimately, there isn't going to be a "crisis" that is deep or strong enough to justify to yourself that you shouldn't be guilty for not being the one to provide her care. With assisted living, it is easier because it is logical: miss a medication, take a fall, break a bone, go to rehab, go to assisted living. That's not how it works with Alzheimer's, and trying to fit a square logic peg into a round emotion hole is near impossible.
- There will be a trigger when you make a decision. Use small crises as a springboard and draw yourself a line in the sand. Maybe it's the next time you shout. How far do you want it to go, though? Is your breaking point when you actually break? Don't be the husband who passes away because the care you provide is beyond your means.
- After placement, the new journey begins. You remain a caregiver, visiting as many hours per day as you are willing. You serve as the advocate for your wife. You develop relationships with staff, residents an family. You may even consider leading activities. On the other hand, you must also re-focus a percentage of your effort on yourself to remain active and healthy. Don't get lost in the caring transition. Set a routine of shopping, cooking, visiting family and being involved with your wife. Coming to a screeching halt is as dangerous as continuing to careen out of control, so you want to be sure to maintain a pace that works for you.
It's not a book yet, but it's getting there. I hope some of the information helps. Best wishes as you work through the decision making process. Lean on every resource you have for support.