Long Term Care Decision Can Take an Emotional Toll on Caregiver

It is universally agreed that one of the most difficult decisions a caregiver must make is deciding when it is finally time to choose a long term care facility for a loved one. Accepting that home is no longer enough is tremendously difficult for a caregiver and all concerned. Not only must families handle the grief, heartbreak and guilt of the placement, but they must also decide which type of care facility will be most appropriate for a loved one – plus, how to manage family finances. This period is, without a doubt, one of the most stressful for any family, especially for the the caregiver.

For the caregiver the bitter grief of separation and lingering guilt about the choice continues throughout this period. Caregiver strain can be made even harder by the patient who pleads to return home or asks staff to call the caregiver at home. Caregiver guilt can be devastating. As friends, family and community we can help acaregiver at this time. Telephone the caregiver often, or better still drop by for a visit. Listen to caregiver concerns and offer your support. Caregiving can be a very lonely game. A caregiver who has been out of the “social circle” for awhile will welcome an invitation to lunch or other pleasant outing.

Please don’t forget the person in the care facility. Visit often, take old photos to jog pleasant memories and stimulate conversation. Knowing that friends and family continue to visit is a great comfort to the caregiver. We often hear from caregivers dealing with these issues.

Connie Metsger, director of Sun City’s Residence for Alzheimer’s Care, offers good advice:

“Dear Connie: My husband has recently moved into an Assisted Living Facility. He has had Alzheimer’s disease for five years and has reached a stage where I could not manage his care at home any longer. I feel horrible about leaving him there, and I cannot get the image of his sad eyes out of my mind. The thought that we shall never again share the same home often brings me to tears. My friends tell me I made the right choice, and I know that they are correct. I have tried to get back to my old activities, but I feel so callous. How can I enjoy myself when Bob is so unhappy? I end up spending most days at the facility. Is the rest of my life going to be like this? – Judy

Making the decision to place a loved one under care is probably one of the hardest decisions a caregiver can ever be asked to make. Once the decision has been made, it is also very common to question whether you did the right thing. Going to a caregiver support group and hearing this from others may be helpful to you. They can share tips on how they handled their periods of caregiver adjustment. The trials of caregiver adjustment are not easily grasped by those who have not experienced similar hardship. Children and other family members may benefit from counseling as well. These are psychologically traumatic events, and we must deal with them as maturely and sensibly as possible.”

Having to place your loved one in a care facility is hard enough. Trying to come up with the money to pay for their care can make a hard situation unbearable. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Speak to your long term care insurance Buyer’s Advocate to see if coverage is right for you and your family.

Copyright (c) 2006 Clay Cotton