One of the most challenging transitions in caregiving is the decision for your family member to move into a residential care facility. This decision is often made during a time of crisis, either because the care recipient is no longer able to safely stay in their own home or because family members can no longer provide the level or type of care that is needed.
When the time comes to make this decision, it is important to acknowledge the current reality of your family’s situation, rather than holding on to the way things used to be. It is not a failure on your part that you are no longer able to provide the level of care that is needed. As your family member’s health declines the amount of care required can become overwhelming. In addition, the equipment needed to provide the necessary care may only be available in a care facility.
The decision for residential care is often initiated by a sudden health change or an admission to hospital for either the care recipient or family caregiver. When you are caring for someone day in and day out it can be difficult to see the gradual changes in that person’s abilities and needs. You may not recognize that last month they were able to dress themselves and now they need help.
To assess your situation check in once per month:
* How are you feeling? Are you anxious, irritable or not sleeping? Are you feeling more overwhelmed than before? Is this different from last month?
* Take a look at the person you are caring for. Are they relying on you more and needing more hands-on care or direction? Are they anxious when alone or have they become more withdrawn and isolated? This decline in health means a care facility may be the best option now and be safer for everyone involved.
It is normal for family members to feel guilt, grief or anxiety in facing this decision. You may also feel a sense of relief knowing that there will be others sharing in the care now and your burden will be lightened. When the care recipient moves into residential care you are relieved of providing ongoing personal care, which will now be provided by the facility staff.
Caregiving does not end, however, when your family member moves into a facility. You will still be providing emotional support, making legal and financial decisions, visiting them and participating in care decisions. But the quality of your relationship can improve because you can also go back to your original relationship as wife, husband, son or daughter.
Next month: Watch for the new Senior Living Caregiving Guide
SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2013