Placing a Loved One in a Nursing Home (Part II)

Contributed by: Tom Shoemaker – Medical Social Worker, OSF Home Care Services

Emotions can swirl at the thought of turning over the care of a loved one to a facility like a nursing home. For some, it’s an evil necessity of last resort. Some feel relief in getting help with care that is just too much.

Most people realize at some point, they cannot continue to provide the needed care at home. It can be hard to admit, but you need to recognize when you need help and going to a nursing home may be a necessary option.

Coping with Guilt

  1. After you make the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home, remind yourself that you took the steps necessary to ensure your loved one will be living in a place where he or she is safe and comfortable, and able to get the care and attention they need 24/7.
  2. Remind yourself you did the best you could do at home for as long as you could. Try to feel good about what you did accomplish at home for the time you were the caregiver.
  3. Know that you made the decision you made because you recognized your need for help and what you did was an act of love, wanting the best care for your loved one.
  4. Understand you did the unselfish thing by determining what your loved one needed, instead of what made you feel better.

A Positive Outcome

A number of positive changes can result from placement. For example, one change is having more quality time with your loved one because someone else is doing the day-to-day care. You can focus on being the spouse, child, grandchild or friend, instead of the caregiver.

You can catch up on much needed rest and therefore be in better spirits with the time you spend with your loved one. You may also be able to finally address your own health needs when there wasn’t time before.

Plus, you can be assured that your loved one is getting 24-hour care. Finally, you will have the flexibility to develop more balance with your life again by re-engaging in activities that you used to do or need to do.

Despite no longer being involved in the 24-hour care, you can still be involved in the care of your loved one after placement. The facility will rely on you for your input about your loved one’s health care needs and preferences.

If your loved one does not have “decisional capacity” and you are the health care power of attorney, you are still responsible for care and health decisions at the facility.

Remember, God gives wisdom to those who ask for it. Pray for it. God’s grace shows up when you ask for it.

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