3 Reasons to Stop Feeling Guilty About Putting Mom in Assisted Living

feeling guilty about putting mom in assisted living

It’s one of the hardest decisions of your life

Moving your older adult into assisted living or a skilled nursing facility (aka nursing home) might be one of the hardest decisions in your life. When caring for them at home becomes dangerous or nearly impossible, it’s absolutely necessary to move them to a place where they can get the care they need.

Even if this is the best decision for their health and for yours, the guilt and sadness can still be overwhelming. It takes time, but there are ways you can help yourself accept the decision.



3 reasons for guilt and the reality behind them

Here are three common reasons and some example scenarios why caregivers feel guilty about moving their senior to assisted living. We explain why those reasons aren’t true and why your decision was unavoidable.

1. You’ve failed in your duty to care for them

  • I promised Mom I’d always take care of her.
  • Dad asked me to never abandon him.
  • When we got married, we promised that we’d always be there for each other – in sickness and in health.

You haven’t failed. Moving someone to assisted living doesn’t mean that you’ve failed to take care of them. It means you’re making a smart decision to get them the level of care they need.

You still spend as much time with them as you can, talk frequently with the staff, and manage their overall care. You are taking good care of your older adult and you certainly haven’t abandoned them.


2. You’re not as good a caregiver as you should be

  • My friend Sarah takes care of her Mom at home. I should have been able to keep doing it too.
  • My brother thinks I’m being lazy and just don’t want to take care of Dad at home anymore.
  • My husband’s daughter (from a previous marriage) told me that she’s angry that I’m dumping her dad in a home.

You are a great caregiver. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s not fair to compare yourself to others. It’s also important not to pay too much attention to people who don’t help and don’t understand the real situation.

Your senior may have more serious health conditions or need a much higher level of care than is possible for you to provide. If your health is suffering or if someone could get injured, it’s time to make a change.

Moving your older adult protects both of your health and safety and allows them to get the care they need. Besides, if you don’t protect your own health, you surely won’t be able to keep caring for them.


3. You feel their health wouldn’t have gotten worse or would have improved if you hadn’t make the move

  • Mom wouldn’t have gotten the flu if she was still home with me.
  • Dad would be eating better and not losing weight if I was still taking care of him.
  • My wife would still recognize me if she had stayed at home with me instead of moving here.

That’s not true. It may be true that things would be different if you’d kept them at home. But that doesn’t mean things would be better than they are now. It could actually be much worse.

Remember, you made this decision because their health and safety was in danger. Making a change is what had to be done to prevent something terrible from happening.


Bottom line

It hurts when you have negative thoughts and feelings about a decision you were forced to make. Your heart will need some time to catch up with what you know in your head.

Understanding where the guilt is coming from gives you the chance to remind yourself about the reality of the situation. Over time, you’ll be able to fully accept the decision. That goes a long way to easing guilt and reducing stress.


Recommended for you:
3 Common Myths about Caregiver Guilt
4 Ways to Reduce Stress from Caregiver Emotions
3 Effective Ways to Respond to Caregiver Criticism


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: The Dynamic Turnaround


  • Reply July 23, 2019

    Hazel Owens

    I liked that you mentioned that using assisted living is a smart choice. My mom is having trouble doing things alone, so I want to put her in a care home. I will look for an assistive house for her and hope she likes it.

    • Reply September 2, 2019

      Ellie Licon

      can a sibling terminate her rights to help care for her senior mother.if she lives out of state (NC)..my sisters & brother do not WANT TO help at all they say they can terminate her as their mother is this true…

  • Reply May 22, 2019


    My mom is 92 and her primary caregiver was my older sister that passed away 7 months ago. My 72 years old brother was taking care of her after my older sister passing ,but he is very ill with cancer and we had to put her on facility because I live overseas and i cannot care for her . This is making me feel so sad and guilty for not to be there to help them. But i do help them financially that how i can keep them living a very comfortable life. But the guilt still hard to deal. I visit them once a month since my older sister death. I dealt with all the legality of her will, Im selling their house. i pay all their bills , put food and medication for both of them… still i feel guilty all the time. i have family to care for as well , husband ,daughters and dog…still the horrible guilt

    • Reply July 28, 2019


      I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling this way. Hopefully this article can help you realize that you’re already doing everything that you realistically can to help your mom and brother. That’s all that you can expect from yourself ❤️

  • Reply May 7, 2019


    My husband and I have been caring for my mom 10 years, 4 of those years are in our home. The time has come that we can no longer do this on our own. I work full time and he is the care giver. The stress of care giving has reached our limits. Our health is deteriorating, we both have insomnia and our marriage has suffered. Although I feel sorry for my mom I know that being in the assisted living home will be the best for her and us. When we visit her we will be happy to see her and spend quality time with her instead of feeling resentful. My siblings haven’t helped once in 10 years, this has caused resentful feeling towards them that I hope I can overcome someday.

    • Reply July 28, 2019


      It’s wonderful that you’ve made the necessary changes that improve the situation for everyone involved. This way, your mom is getting the care she needs and you and your husband have the time you need to care for yourselves as well.

  • Reply April 5, 2019


    I have been my Moms primary caregiver for 15 years off and on. I did have a CNA helping me for three years, during the day. Now, my Mom is in stage 5 dementia,, due to a stroke, which means that some days she seems 65% herself and others it’s a toss up, wondering around at night, therefore I do not get much sleep. Mom tells others that since I registered her in a Memory Care Facility that I never call or come see her. In fact, some days she is not sure who I am. I can deal with everything that has been thrown at me, but I can not deal with a brother that cusses me, calls me everything in the book, claims that I just wanted to put her away and wants to know where’s the money. He visits my Mom two times a year and calls a couple times a month and makes up excuses for why he can’t drive 4.5 hours more often. He has never come home for anything urgent and in fact, told me years ago, that he would never help care for Mom. Now, he wants to know if he will get any money. After his last call to my Mom, I had to block him from calling due to his threats. Sometimes, it’s not enough to care for a parent, but having to put up with a sibling that just wants money. There is no money to speak of.

    I hipper ventalate most of the time due to the added stress. I’m just feeling guilty and not dealing with all of this as I should.

    Thank you…

  • Reply January 25, 2019

    Marie Campbell

    I’ve been a full-time carer for my mum who has Congenital heart failure & arthritis & now having falls & near falls her mind is sound & sharp yet her body is ailing, MUM was in emergency Dept at a hospital from a recent fall & broken bone in her shoulder. The medical decision to have mum moved to an aged care 24 hours home was made by medical staff & aged care assessment team (Australia) this had been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to make & the guilt is so overwhelming that I’m unable to sleep at night & become anxious in 15 years I’ve had mum in my home she has become my best friend mentor & of cause I allowed her to be the boss of my home & my small home business. It takes all my courage & strength to see mum at the rehab hospital while we are waiting for a bed in the beautiful Multicultural nursing home I am from a Greek background, now I need to reclaim my life & I don’t even know where to start? Thank you for allowing me to air my thought.

    • Reply January 27, 2019


      It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to care for your mom for so many years. It sounds like she’s in the best place to help her recover from her injuries. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new situation, you’ve both made a big change to your lives.

  • Reply November 12, 2018


    My Mom has been living with me and my husband for over two years. She is 84 and I am 62. She has congestive heart failure, and arthritis, but other than that she gets along pretty well. She can’t take care of herself and all she wants to do is stay in her room and gossip on the phone and watch television. She gossips and tells our business to anyone that will listen. She is also very negative, she talks about everyone in the family and spreads their business around too. She lies about things and says some of the meanest, nastiest things out of her mouth to hurt your feelings, and this hasn’t just started, she has been like this her entire life. She gives her money away to her brother and his wife and also to my youngest brother who is in and out of prison. My husband and I argue a lot because he wants my Mom out of our home, but none of my other siblings won’t look after her. I have reached the point, where I want to place her in an assisted living facility, but on the other hand, I feel so guilty and sorry for her because she has alienated everyone from her and no one else wants to be bothered with her.

    • Reply November 17, 2018


      This is definitely a tough situation. It’s very kind of you to care for your mom despite her behavior toward you.

      Ultimately, the decision to move her to assisted living is up to you. It’s important to do the right thing for you as well as for her. Your needs are important to consider too.

      Here are a couple of articles that may be helpful:
      — Moving to Assisted Living: 5 Ways to Know When It’s Needed https://dailycaring.com/moving-to-assisted-living-5-ways-to-know-when-its-needed/
      — When Should a Senior Move to Assisted Living? Get Advice from a Social Worker https://dailycaring.com/when-should-a-senior-move-to-assisted-living-get-advice-from-a-social-worker/

      • Reply November 18, 2018

        Denise Collelle

        I totally feel for you we had to move my mom into a nursing home after complications from pneumonia and her inability to walk at all at all and she is very angry at me saying that I did this to her but it was just impossible to take care of her at home anymore and it was hard on my family as well and our lives were adjusted greatly and it started to affect my marriage and of course everyone has their own opinions but not one of them would take care of her for one day not even one day to give me a break and if they did take care of her for a few hours I had to babysit their kids but no one was here for me I did everything on my own and no one understands at all until they walk a mile in your shoes . I had a lot of criticism from everyone and I welcomed them to do a better job but like I said they would not put their money where their mouth was And as it turns outthat is all they cared about was the $$. They were afraid that I would take “extra” as they put it because I was the one that took care of her and opened my home to her at a time when she needed it the most and my two sisters actually said to me that they agreed i should get $10,000 extra for taking care of Miommy for the 7 1/2 years that i did. That was the thanks I got! No matter what decision you make you will never keep everyone happy unfortunately! it just sucks all around!

  • Reply August 29, 2018

    Faye Jividen

    Thanks for the encouragement, I am going through this very thing now after having to move my husband into a memory care facility where I know he will get good care.

    • Reply August 29, 2018


      Hang in there, it takes time to adjust to the changes. It’s a really tough decision to have made and you’ve only chosen this so he can get the great care he needs. Sending warm hugs 💜

  • Reply April 10, 2018

    Linda Hayes

    Yes am a caregiver but my mum needs nursing care now but I’m bringing her home..to see if i can look after her in house with carers four times a day ..I also have my husband had masive stroke..Do u think i am wise about this

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