In admitting a family member into a long-term care facility,
you may be faced with the guilty feeling that you have let
that person down. Even though you may have spent a long time
trying to cope with caring for the loved one yourself and
know that this is the only way to go, negative thoughts can
Be assured that these feelings are very common and that
you are not alone. Nearly every family in your position experiences
some challenging emotions which may include guilt, anxiety,
or even anger at having to take responsibility for making
the placement decision. These are understandable reactions.
And there are positive ways to deal with them:
- Talking over your problems with other families who have
been in the same situation can be helpful. They understand
your difficulties and may have good advice to offer. In
addition, you may want to seek counsel of the facility's
social service worker whose job is to listen to your concerns
and answer your questions.
- Respond to invitations to contribute to your loved one's
care by helping at mealtime or accompanying the resident
to an activity. Such caring participation makes family members
feel more needed and lessens the sense of frustration or
- When appropriate, the transition may be made easier for
the new resident and family by a clergy member, who can
provide spiritual guidance and support.
- It is very important to keep the lines of communication
open with the staff and the facility. Don't be afraid to
ask questions about the facility's routines and practices.
This strategy will ensure your peace of mind about your
loved one's care.
- Ask the facility's social services director about support
groups for families, held either at the facility or in the
community. These groups are a great way to meet others who
have had undergone similar situations in placing a loved
one in a facility.
- Family members who live far away from the facility should
be encouraged to make phone calls and send letters to the
resident. Sending audio and videocassettes is an especially
good way to keep your loved one in touch.
- Promote a home-like atmosphere for your loved one's room
by bringing in meaningful objects such as artwork, a favorite
quilt, awards, or photos…items that emphasize the person's
uniqueness and personality.
- Make visits meaningful by bringing along children, pets,
or meaningful objects that reflect your loved one's interests
and background. Consider talking to the activity director
about creative ideas for making visits to the facility enjoyable
for everyone involved. Click
here for ideas on making the most of your visit.
Making a long-term care placement is not an easy move for
you or your loved one. But don't let it cause you to be unjustly
critical of the facility or tough on yourself. Especially,
don't let it keep you from maintaining a close and supportive
bond with the person whose interests you feel are best being
served by taking this step. By becoming actively involved
in facility life, you will be able to minimize any negative
feelings you may have about this life transition.