Do you feel guilt about moving your loved one into a senior community? If so, the first step is to acknowledge your guilt and accept that guilt is a normal feeling to have. Even after feeling and accepting your guilt as normal you may have family and friends who say they would never move their loved one in a senior community. Remember they don’t know what you have been through in caring for your loved one. Theodore Roosevelt does an amazing job at explaining this exact topic in Man in the Arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Most likely your decision to move your loved one in a senior community was not an easy one. You were in the arena striving to take care of your loved one until it reached a point you could no longer do it alone. If people are judging you for your decision to move your loved one in a community, they don’t have this right unless they were in the arena with you.

Maybe you have accepted your guilt as normal and let go of the critics of your decision, then guilt sneaks back in when your loved one talks about wanting to go home. Remember that your loved one may be using the word ‘home’ to express not his/her desire to return to their previous home of residence but for a feeling of comfort, safety, acceptance, and control. Like Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” If they continue to ask to go home, it’s time to play detective. First try to understand why they are saying this and what they really mean. Do they need sleep or need to go to the bathroom? Do they feel unsafe or scared, agitated or upset, or physically uncomfortable? Are they not familiar with their current environment like a new room, new decor, or new people? Once you determine the problem, hopefully you can address it and decrease the amount of times they call out for home. If you can’t determine the problem, express love and care for your loved one or try to distract and redirect them. Approach your loved one in a calm and relaxed state. Try hugging, gentle touching, and/or sitting with them. Try giving them a blanket or stuffed animal. Agree with them when they say they want to go home, then redirect and distract. An example of this approach is saying, “That’s a good idea. We’ll go as soon as we finish this puzzle.” Or simply ask them to tell you about their home then guide them into a neutral topic.

There are many coping skills you can use to reduce your feelings of guilt for moving your loved one in a senior community. If your guilt continues to get the best of you even after feeling it, accepting it, and addressing your loved one’s need for comfort, safety, acceptance, and control it’s time to get out the tool box of guilt coping skills. Below are 10 coping skills for guilt:

1.) Recognize that you are human and accepting help is okay

2.) Be gentle with yourself and take time for self care

3.) Start a journal to express your thoughts and feelings

4.) Talk with your friends and family about your guilt

5.) Work on forgiving yourself, you are doing the best you can

6.) Now that you aren’t the only one caring for your loved one focus on ways to express your love through actions like participating in senior community activities or outings

7.) Think about the benefits of senior care that you can’t provide at home

8.) Now you can focus on spending quality time together and building your relationship

9.) Join a caregiver support group

10.) If your guilt gets so bad where it interferes with your social, work, or other important areas of your life seek out a mental health professional

Remember, guilt is not easy to handle on your own. If you need help, seek out the support and guidance of a local professional. Our team at Denver Senior Care consultants is passionate about connecting people to local resources that you can trust.