Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Question of Guilt

At some point, Lyn will no longer be able to tend to her personal needs.  She won't be able to change her clothes, feed herself or clean herself.  She won't be able to get up and may become bedridden.  All of these changes are common symptoms of the late stages of Alzheimer's.  When that time comes, Lyn will need care providers who are able to lift her, turn her, feed her, clothe and clean her.  Because of Lyn's size, Mom may not be able to do it all herself.

A comment on yesterday's post raised this concern and the very real possibility that Lyn will need to be placed in a care home.  The goal is to keep Lyn in her home environment for as long as possible.  Her case managers have spoken of making in home renovations such as a walk-in tub to make her care as easy as possible for as long as possible.  While that goal guides decisions about Lyn's in-home care, the reality is that Lyn will very likely need full-time nursing care.  Mom and I are cognizant of this need and are emotionally prepared to make the decision when the time comes.

The comment posited that we may feel guilt in placing Lyn in a nursing home.  It raises a good question.  Will we?  Mom and I discussed this topic last night as a result of the comment.

When my Grandmother's care exceeded the capacity for her to be cared for in-home, Grandma was moved to a small private nursing home where she lived until her death.  She received very good care.   It was the right place for Grandma and we'll always appreciate my Aunt suggesting the facility.  In thinking back on that time, I don't remember there being expressions of guilt in moving Grandma to a nursing home.  Mom confirms that there was no sense of guilt felt or expressed.

As we continued the discussion, we found we were both expressing much of the same sentiments.  When Lyn is placed in a nursing facility, it will be with the recognition and knowledge that her care has exceeded what can be provided to her in the home.  We will make sure she's in a good facility and Mom anticipates visiting her regularly if not daily.  Neither of us expect that we'll feel guilt or question the decision to move Lyn because our goal is to provide her with the best care we can provide.  If that means that others have to do the heavy lifting then we line up the resources Lyn needs.

If we were just placing Lyn in a nursing home because we were tired of caring for her, then we'd have reason to feel guilt.  If a nursing home was a matter of convenience and not need, then we'd have reason to feel guilt.  Moving her when her care exceeds our abilities is no reason for guilt.

Mom and I both have participated in Alzheimer's support groups.  Mom has attended in real life as well as on-line.  I participate on-line only at this time.  Neither of us have understood the feelings of guilt that are commonly expressed by other participants.  When we hear of the lengths to which others have gone to avoid a nursing home placement, we see nothing to fault with their decision to finally place their loved one in a nursing home.  The decisions are not easily or lightly made.  While it may not be an easy decision for us too, I do believe we will accept the decision peacefully and not beat ourselves up over it.

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