Some caregivers may be keeping promises to parents or spouses that they would never “put them away.” That’s a noble intent, and it’s a blessing when you can fulfill such a promise. However, in spite of our best efforts to stop by my Mom’s more often, stay longer, do more of what was needed, etc., the day came when our family accepted that we could no longer care for our mother on our own. It was unsafe to leave her alone, and no one was in a position to leave their jobs or move her in with them. We would have to partner with some type of nursing facility for her care.
We relied on help from Mom’s doctor to tell her that we had to find a placement for her right away so that she was safe. We did our research, met with directors, and had tearful tours of several facilities that had an Alzheimer’s unit. The one we selected arranged for Mom to come in for lunch; she thought it was social, but it was actually an assessment. We let her see another facility the same day so that she was a part of the decision-making process. Thankfully, she also selected the first one.
When the time came to move her in, we felt pretty much felt like parents on the first day of school. We were reluctant to walk away and leave her with strangers. Yet, we chose to not feel guilty for having to place her. We were not turning our backs on her, but became regular visitors who got involved in the center’s activities as well. Everyone’s situation is different; so not everyone will need to or be able to partner with an assisted living facility for the care of a loved one. But if that day comes for you, think about my mother’s words, “I’m not happy about it, but I accept it.” In time I learned to let go of the emotion and accept it as well.