What if you no longer had the physical and/or emotional ability to care for a loved one with dementia at home? Recently I have had a few calls on our 24/7 Helpline and heard stories from family members who are struggling with this decision or watching a parent wrestle with this dilemma.
Sometimes a significant other feels they are breaking their wedding vows to be there “through sickness and in health.” The beloved spouse and partner has been with them for 60 years. How could they even imagine coming home without him/her being there?
For others it might be a cultural expectation, that we don’t “place” our loved ones, rather we care for them at home until they pass on.
There are others who recognize that caring for a parent with dementia at home has begun to have an unhealthy effect on their younger children. Or perhaps their spouse alerts them to signs of stress in the caregiver and needs to remind them to think of his or her own health and emotional well-being.
I am certain that there are multiple reasons why many of us baulk at the suggestion we consider moving a loved one to a facility. We love the person who is suffering through this disease, “we owe” them for all the times in our lives when they were there for us as we faced our own struggles. For some it might even be concerns such as “What will other people think if I don’t keep Mom at home?”
The calls I get are not from family members who rushed to look at a care facility the day their parent/spouse received their diagnosis. No, these are more often loving family members who have, sometimes for many years, had Mom or Dad, husband or wife, living with them while they tried to take care of their every need. Anyone who has been a caregiver knows that there are not many days off for such folks.
It is not an easy decision to make, nor should anyone judge someone who has to make the decision that they are no longer able to care for their loved one at home. Weighing what we would like to do, with what is best for our children, or our marriage, or our own mental and physical health is quite difficult. Who can be objective? Perhaps it comes down to considering where the person with dementia will receive the best care. There may come a point in time where one has to let go on the idea that “we can do it all.”
Be sure to contact the Alzheimer’s Association if you are struggling with these issues. We offer free community classes called Moving a Loved One: Choices, Challenges and Considerations, help finding the right facility and more for individuals and families dealing with this situation. Just visit www.alz.org or call 1.800.272.3900 any time, day or night.