The decision to move your parent into a senior living facility can be fraught with emotional land mines. There are expectations – spoken and silent. You may be expected to care for a parent at home because that’s what your parents did, or because there is a cultural expectation that you will. There are financial issues to work out and you and or your parents may be uncomfortable discussing that. There is guilt. There is always guilt. Would a “good” daughter keep her parents in their home? There are so many mixed up emotions to deal with.
You must face the fact your parents are aging. You must face the fact you are aging. You might feel like you are closing a chapter; saying goodbye to your childhood and maybe to your childhood home.
Then there is the classic caregiver struggle to balance your needs with your parents’ needs. And wow, does that feel complicated.
How do we decide whose needs take precedence? How do you weigh your desire to work, sleep and parent your children – heck, maybe even to have some fun – against your parent’s desire to age at home, retain some independence, stay in their community?
We’ve been discussing this topic on the Working Daughter Facebook Group this week. One member of the group posted that it is becoming impossible to keep her mother in her home because she requires more and more care and the woman has her children to care for too. Another member is moving her father because he is falling so frequently at home. Both women asked the question, “Will they understand?”
And there’s the kicker.
Even when you arrive at the decision to move your parents, you may worry about whether or not your parents understand the decision. If your parent is aware of what’s happening, and even tells you they understand why you made the decision, you might still worry that deep down they don’t mean it. The desire to not disappoint our parents never ages. If your parent has dementia, you may wish for just one more undiseased conversation to talk though the decision.
“Will they understand?”
Perhaps, all we need to worry about as caregivers is whether or not we understand our decisions. After all, we are the only ones we can control. Only we know how much we are capable of, how much we are willing to do and to give, what else in our life we need to prioritize. If we arrive at a decision after carefully considering our needs (that’s okay, you know), our spouse and children’s needs, and our parents’ needs, isn’t that enough? If we approach the decision with as much compassion, courage, and information we can muster, isn’t that enough?
As caregivers we are susceptible to so many opinions – what our parents think, what our siblings think, what extended family and neighbors and friends think. We are bombarded with information depicting happy daughters and beautiful seniors holding hands and picking flowers and gazing lovingly into the future. Gah!
None of that matters. The only thing that matters is that we can look in the mirror at the end of the day and know we are doing our best – for our parents, and for ourselves. It might not be easy, but can it be enough?