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

why you should stop feeling guilty about putting mom in assisted living

You’ve made one of the hardest decisions of your life

Moving your older adult into assisted living might be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make in your life.

So many caregivers are feeling guilty about “putting mom in assisted living” – moving their parent, spouse, relative, or close friend to assisted living, a nursing home, or memory care.

But when caring for someone at home becomes dangerous or nearly impossible, it’s absolutely necessary to move them to a place where they’ll be safe and get the care they need.

Unfortunately, the reality is that even if this is the best decision for their health and for yours, the guilt and sadness can still be overwhelming.

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.

While you’re adjusting to the changes, understand what’s causing the guilt can help you accept the decision and reduce emotional stress.

We share 3 common reasons that cause you to feel guilty about moving your parent or spouse to assisted living.

We also explain why those beliefs aren’t true and why the reality of the situation made your decision unavoidable and necessary.




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Feeling guilty about putting mom in assisted living? 3 common reasons and the reality behind them

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.

That’s not true. You haven’t failed as a caregiver.

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 keep them safe and 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 takes care of her Mom at home and has been doing it longer than I have. 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 Mom 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.

That’s not true. You are a wonderful caregiver. 

Each family’s situation is different and you don’t know their whole story, so it’s not fair to compare yourself to others.

Your older adult may have more serious health conditions or need a higher level of care than is possible to provide at home.

And if your health is suffering or if someone is likely to get injured, it’s time to make a change in the living situation.

In these situations, 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 continue caring for them.

It’s also important to remember that people who don’t help and don’t understand the situation aren’t qualified to make judgments or accusations. 

If they refuse to understand the reality, do your best to ignore their hurtful comments.




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3. Their health wouldn’t have gotten worse or would have improved if you hadn’t made the move

  • Mom wouldn’t have gotten so sick with 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. Nobody can control health or cognitive ability.

It’s natural to second-guess ourselves, but the reality is that nobody can predict the future.

Maybe things would have been different if you’d kept your older adult at home. Or maybe the outcome would be the same.

But most likely, things would have been worse if you hadn’t decided to move them to assisted living.

Remember, you made this tough decision because their health and safety was in danger.

Moving to assisted living is what had to be done to prevent something even worse from happening.

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Gen L


37 Comments

  • Reply February 7, 2021

    Kumar

    Hello,
    I read your article. I am an immigrant and single. I have a sibling who did not want to care but I bought my father to live with me. He had a stent put in after a heart attack but otherwise healthy 68. After 6 months, I did not want to care for him anymore. I was doing everything and moved him back to his apartment in my country. He had help, but was lonely. I was so angry that I did not want to visit him. He wanted me to care for him and keep him safe. And I did not. He passed away from a heart attack. Since then I have been really plauged by guilt and feeling that I am a horrible son. I wish it was different. I have been so miserable that I lost all joy in living. I keep thinking why did I make such a mistake. He is my father after all and how heartless I have been. I need to move past or this guilt my consume me. How do I do that.

  • Reply December 22, 2020

    mike boarland

    Im feeling your situation my mother is 82 dimentia last 4 years recently had to put her in a mental facility it sucks because this is the first time i missed christmas w mom in a very long time you are not alone in this world or the next God bless you

    • Reply December 23, 2020

      DailyCaring

      We’re so sorry that you’re not able to spend Christmas with your mom this year 🙁 Maybe it would help to drop off a thoughtful holiday gift that you know she would use and enjoy?

      For example, she might like looking at old family photos and keeping warm with a soft blanket or robe.

  • Reply April 30, 2020

    Daniel Kelly

    Hi I am a man of 60 have been caring at home for mam 12yrs now after dad passed away it was only going to be for about a year for her to get over dad 12yrs later I’m still here she has dimentia last 5 yrs so it’s tuff need to put her in care home to get my own life back on track but feel guilty what can I do

  • Reply January 16, 2020

    Jeanne

    when my mother got old I brought her to live with me. She used to be a quiet meek religious woman . But when she got alzhiemers she became violent, started cursing she was a different person. She kept running away and the police had to keep bringing her home. The doctor didn’t want her eating in mcdonalds because of her pressure. One morning she wanted to go there and when I told her the doctor didn’t want her eating there she turned on all my gas jets and rolled up a long piece of paper and told me she was going to burn my d___ house down if I didn’t let her out. I was scared. She was bigger than me and her eyes were looking wild. I had to find somewhere to take her. If I fixed her food she would throw it on the floor. It hurt me when I had to find a place for her. She’s been dead almost 20 years and I still cry when I think of her

    • Reply November 10, 2020

      DailyCaring

      That’s such a difficult situation to live through. You clearly went above and beyond to care for your mother even through the violent behavior. We’re so sorry for your loss.

  • Reply October 8, 2019

    Trish

    I have a 94 year old father who I had to place in memory care last year. Sometimes he’s very with it and other days is the total opposite. I couldn’t physically care for him any longer in my home I feel very guilty about making this decision. He always has gotten his own way and now is bucking me for where he lives. He’s very surly and angry about his life. It’s taking a toll on me because I try to visit every day or my husband goes for me. My diabetes has gotten worse since he got ill last year and I placed him in memory care. I can’t get rid of the guilt.

    • Reply November 10, 2020

      DailyCaring

      It’s tough to let go of guilt even though it was no longer possible for you to care for your father in your own home. Moving him was necessary for his health and safety, as well as for yours.

      It might help to speak with someone to help you work through your feelings. This article might be helpful – 4 Sources of Affordable Counseling Services to Reduce Caregiver Stress https://dailycaring.com/low-cost-therapy-options-help-caregivers-cope/

      • Reply July 1, 2021

        Kiara B

        My grandmother suffered several strokes..I have in home care in place and I take care of her as well. Lately it’s been difficult to find reliable night shift caregivers. Family issues and them not wanting to help me care for her has lead me to the difficult decision of starting the process to admit her into a skilled nursing facility. I feel guilty and feel like I haven’t done enough but it’s difficult caring for a elderly loved one on your own while still trying to live my own life (work, school, & care for my children). Depression is kicking in because I feel that I didn’t do enough. I feel like I’m letting her down.

        • Reply July 1, 2021

          DailyCaring

          It’s a very difficult decision to make, but it sounds like this is a necessary move in order to get your grandmother the care she needs, especially during the night. The feeling of guilt is common among caregivers and completely natural. However, it’s important to remember that “doing enough” doesn’t mean completely exhausting yourself and ignoring all other areas of your own life for as long as the care is needed – that’s not realistic.

          What’s important is that you’re doing your best to make sure she gets the care that she needs, which sounds like is no longer possible to provide at home due to her increasing needs. It’s also important to make sure that you have time to take care of yourself and the other areas of your own life. After all, if you become unwell yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. This way, you’ll be able to continue to care for your grandmother.

          You may find it helpful to speak with others in similar situations or to speak with a trained counselor to find ways to manage and work through these feelings. These articles have more info and suggestions:
          – 11 Private Support Groups for Caregivers on Facebook https://dailycaring.com/support-groups-for-caregivers-on-facebook/
          – 4 Sources of Affordable Counseling Services to Reduce Caregiver Stress https://dailycaring.com/low-cost-therapy-options-help-caregivers-cope/

  • 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 September 3, 2019

        DailyCaring

        If this is a legal question, you may want to contact an attorney for advice in this situation.

        If it’s more a matter of coming to an agreement with your siblings about your mother’s care, this article may be helpful — 4 Caregiving Tips for Getting Siblings to Help with Parents https://dailycaring.com/4-caregiving-tips-for-getting-siblings-to-help-with-parents/

      • Reply April 14, 2021

        Michelle

        Children have no legal obligation to care for their parents. I have 5 step siblings and a sister of my own. Out of 6 people, only 2 were any help to me with my stepdad (their dad!) and 0 are helping me with my mom.

    • Reply October 8, 2019

      Moki

      I’m in the US and my parents along with my only brother and his wife are in Asia. My father, 88 had been a primary caregiver for my mother, 82, except for the 2 months in summer and 2 weeks during The holidays when I have been going back to care for them for the last 19 years. This past June, exhaustion from caring for my mom whose dementia had progressed led my dad to be hospitalized and now he is struggling to care for even himself. Reluctantly we placed mom in a facility where she could stay for 3 months, hoping my dad would recover. Dad is still weak in the hospital and mom has been so belligerent at night, screaming to go home, that she got kicked out of one facility and is about to get kicked out from the second one. Per recommendation of the facility staff, my brother took her to a neuropsychiatric in patient hospital but got turned away because she only has episodes after sun down. My brother takes her home every other night right now to give her facility roommates and the staff some break.
      However, the facility is pushing for her to go home permanently once dad is discharged home. We have some support service in place but hardly enough. My mom is also physically disable from the massive stroke she had 25 years ago. My mom keeps saying to people around her that she is dumped in the facility and dad is all weak because I don’t drop everything and move back with them to care for them. I cared for both of them for two months this summer as I have always done for the last 19 years(I’m 53) , sleeping on the floor between them and felt I couldn’t do this all year long since my mother’s dementia progressed and now my dad also needs personal care. But I feel guilty for not returning to my home country for them. My mom keeps fighting against moving to a facility, which makes me feel worse.

    • Reply October 18, 2019

      Lois Glanby

      Assisted Living was horrible for Mother. She almost died and is spending the rest of her life in an invalid in a wheel chair due to facility ignorance. It was difficult getting her out of the hellhole she was in with family members wanting her and myself out of her independent living apartment where I was her full time aide and Mother being put into Assisted Living. It is much better now. I have been taking care of Mother full time in my home for almost 2 years . She is going to be 102 years old this month. It is a blessing to have her here in a loving family atmosphere with my son and his wife living here too and helping with her care. There is help under Medicare with Pallative Care and Hospice both offered as needed. Mother spent a year in a second Assisted Living facility for a year that was better than our previous nightmare experience before coming home. There is no place like home. She is saving a fortune and she is content, loved and she enjoys every day of her life. Mother is my complete dedication. I will never regret the time we are spending together in a loving family atmosphere.

      • Reply October 18, 2019

        DailyCaring

        It’s wonderful that you’re able to care for your mother at home and that you got her away from a terrible situation. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Reply May 22, 2019

    Denise

    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

      DailyCaring

      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

    Lisa

    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

      DailyCaring

      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

    Nette

    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 June 8, 2019

      DailyCaring

      I’m so sorry about your mom’s health conditions and that you’re going through all of this. Caring for someone is a really challenging job. It’s even tougher when family members aren’t supportive.

      You’re certainly not alone in feeling the stress of the situation. Many people find it helpful to participate in a caregiver support group. Here are some articles with more info:
      — 8 Benefits of Caregiver Support Groups https://dailycaring.com/8-benefits-of-caregiver-support-groups/
      — 11 Caregiver Support Groups on Facebook You’ll Want to Join https://dailycaring.com/11-caregiver-support-groups-on-facebook-youll-want-to-join/
      — 4 Ways to Find a Caregiver Support Group You Like https://dailycaring.com/4-ways-to-find-a-caregiver-support-group-you-like/

    • Reply September 18, 2020

      Brenda

      I have been caring for my 99 year old mom for the past 15 years. I have no other family, so it is me 24/7. I have tried to get help, but I would get 3 hours a week from aides that did nothing or my mom did not like. I came home from AZ to care for her snd all my friends are still there. My mom’s dementia started to get worse. She was in and out of the hospital. Finally, she fell and hurt her back and hip. While in the hospital she caught Covid. She was in isolation for 18 days. During that time she got hospital delusion and her dementia got so much worse. She had to enter in to a rehab/skilled nursing facility. They could not do rehab on her because of her dementia. So, now they moved her to a memory unit. Because of Covid I have to make appointments to see her. The appointments are usually 2 weeks apart. It is so horrible going that long without seeing her. She now has stage 7 dementia. She hardly knows me. Because I had to give up my job when her dementia got worse, the money went fast. I spent it in caring for my mom. As I noted, I havre no family, but my mom, so I have no one to turn to. I call my mom every night, but most times she does not know who she is talking to. Other times she does. She makes no sense and I cry thru the whole conversation and long after. I am having a hard time finding a job and because I chose to care for my mom, I could not keep up with my car payments, so it got repossessed. I now have to rent a car for 2 weeks a month, which is expensive. The other 2 weeks I am without transportation. I recently got a job hit in Phoenix as. A good job at the Mayo Clinic. It would mean selling my condo and paying off all my creditor and getting a used car. Then, I could try to build my life back up, while I have about 20 good years to work. I am still waiting for Medicaid to approve my mom. I am stressing because they are taking so long. My mom has nothing and she is 99 years old. I do not understand why they would not approve her. Just another stressor. My doctor who had to put me in antidepssant medication told me to take the job and go to AZ and live the best life I can. He said you gave your mom 20 good years. She is well taken care of, now you need to take care of yourself. But, my friends and some other people especially at the nursing home feel it is not right for me to leave my mom in MA and move cross country. What they do not understand us that I am losing everything little by little. I feel guilty even considering it, but my doctor told me, your health is suffering from stress and you have to take this chance. Am I abandoning my mom. It has been a long road and I am so lonely. While I cared for my mom, I did not go out socially, date, make friends, so now I sit in this condo and cry. Dementia is horrible. My mom’s body is here, but her mind is gone. I am so torn.

      • Reply November 10, 2020

        DailyCaring

        It’s wonderful that you’ve chosen to do so much for your mom, despite the circumstances. We wish you all the best as you make this tough decision.

  • 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

      DailyCaring

      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

    Dee

    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

      DailyCaring

      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

      DailyCaring

      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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