It’s unfortunate, but not uncommon, to feel shamed by others when you opt to place your elderly parent in residential senior living.
That’s especially true now, in the social media era, when so many of the people you interact with online may be only passing acquaintances who rush to opine or render judgments with only the most cursory knowledge of your situation.
Caregiving isn’t easy. It can be stressful. And when it becomes so stressful that it’s disrupting your life, or causing you to feel anxious, depressed, or angry, placement is often the right choice.
It’s also not always safe to continue providing full-time care for your parent at home.
“Taking care of anyone at home is challenging. Taking care of an adult with dementia at home is particularly difficult,” wrote Forbes contributor and memory care provider Rachael Wonderlin.
“If you are caring for someone with dementia in your three-story house, you cannot explain to that person that he or she should not attempt to use the stairs if they are home alone,” she noted. “People with dementia have trouble remembering facts, following directions, or understanding risks.”
You should never feel ashamed of making the care decision that would be best for your parent, for you, and for your family. If you ever experience shaming from others, here’s how to cope.
Allow yourself to let go
That doesn’t mean turning your back on your loved one. It does mean allowing yourself to let go of all the day-to-day anxieties.
When you opt for placement, it’s not because you’re lazy, or you’re selfish, or because you don’t care.
Other people, who don’t know you, might imply so, but the fact is that placing your elder in personal care is often the most loving decision you could make, because you’re acknowledging that your loved one’s caregiving needs were more than any one person could safely handle alone.
Remember that you didn’t fail
Your parents don’t feel that you failed them. And they don’t feel like you’ve abandoned them.
Anyone who shames you about your family’s placement decision probably wasn’t involved in your loved one’s day-to-day care needs.
They may not be happy about moving away from home, but those feelings pass with time, especially if you’ve chosen a quality retirement community, like Episcopal Church Home in Louisville, that preserves their sense of dignity through non-intrusive, person-centered care.
Consider the source
Some people have nothing better to do than stir up drama and ill feelings.
Anyone who shames you about your family’s placement decision probably wasn’t involved in your loved one’s day-to-day care needs. They didn’t see the toll it was taking on your, on your parent, on your spouse and your kids.
People who shame others about placement also typically haven’t experienced for themselves the responsibility of looking after an elder.
They have no idea how difficult it can be to cook every meal, to lift loved ones in and out of bed, to help them transition on and off the toilet or in and out of the tub, to dress them, to run them to every doctor appointment, manage and refill their medications, and to do all this every single day.
They have no idea how embarrassing it can feel to some people to bathe an elder loved one and clean up his or her toileting accidents.
They can’t conceive of how disconcerting it can be to see a parent, on whom you always relied on for steadiness, wisdom and guidance, become more childlike and helpless as dementia takes its toll.
And they’ve never felt the heartbreak of watching a loved one battle Alzheimer’s or other age-associated illnesses.
Respond to criticism with grace
Don’t allow someone to make you feel sorry. Rather, you should feel sorry for people who would attempt to shame you.
They lack perspective and they lack grace. Don’t follow suit.
We’re here for you if you need help coping with the burden of care.
The Episcopal Church Home is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), meaning we offer every level of senior care, from independent living, to personal care, to skilled nursing and advanced dementia care.
For more than 135 years, we’ve delivered high quality, person-centered living experiences to Louisville’s aging seniors. As a not-for-profit senior living community, we don’t have to pay owners or shareholders, and we invest back into our community for the purpose of improving or expanding services for our residents.
Our promise to residents is that we will not ask you to leave if you outlive your financial resources, as some other not-for-profits do. Rooted in our Episcopal faith tradition, our core values create an unwavering and unchanging guide for how we advance our provide care.
If you can no longer safely provide all the care that your aging parent needs, we won’t judge you. We’ll support you. And we would be honored if you’d trust us to provide the person-centered, dignified care your parent deserves.