The decision to move your spouse to a care setting is one of the most difficult transitions you may ever experience. Sometimes we struggle with the decision for years, working through it with our family, medical professionals and other sources of support. At other times, the decision is forced upon us, happening quickly as a result of a sudden change in health condition (yours or your spouse’s) or because of another crisis. Regardless of whether it happens slowly or quickly, the stress can be overwhelming as you are confronted with a continual string of difficult-to-answer questions and conflicting emotions. You may be feeling guilt over your decision, compounded with grieving for the change in your and your spouse’s relationship.
It’s important to know these feelings are completely understandable. Your spouse is someone you may have spent years or even decades with, and you may experience a profound sense of loss. After placing your spouse in a care setting, you will likely often question whether you made the right decision and at the right time. And you may be dealing with other nagging doubts, such as:
• Is my loved one angry with me?
• Is he or she getting the care the way I would do it?
• I’m so lonely… what do I do now?
• Is it normal to feel so torn?
While the list of questions could go on and on, just remember: there is no perfect time or place to move your spouse to a care setting. Life is unpredictable, and we make the best decisions we can with all the information we have at the time. Instead of dwelling in the past, we must come to accept the decision and look to the future, developing ideas and strategies to move forward. While there are no easy answers for how to sort through all these challenges and feelings, here are some helpful ideas:
• Find new activities or meaningful ways to spend time with your loved one at the care setting.
• Find someone you can share your feelings with. If you don’t already attend a support group, consider joining a local group.
• Keep busy! Identify hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy before becoming a caregiver and get involved in them again.
• Reach out to friends you haven’t been able to spend time with and schedule get-togethers.
• Take a class you’ve wanted to try or learn something new.
• Identify ways you can partner with the new care setting. Although they will never provide care the same way you do, they appreciate positive feedback and suggestions.
Senses of grief, loss, frustration and relief (or a mix of all of these) can be very normal. However, if the emotions become intense and overwhelming, you may want to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, counselor, clergy or mental health professional to deal with potential depression. So as the days, weeks and months pass by, be sure to make time for self-care. You are worth it!
If you need to talk to someone or would like additional supportive referrals, don’t hesitate to contact Senior Care Solutions: (916) 965-5565. We are just a phone call away!
Written by Christine Grmolyes
Geriatric Care Manager