3 Ways Families can Deal with the Guilt of Moving a Parent to Assisted Living

Having a busy, growing family can make supporting your aging parents difficult. What may start with helping them at their home once or twice a week can soon turn into daily care requirements.

More than 80% of elderly Americans have at least one chronic disease. As your parent ages, they may begin to develop medical conditions that require a higher level of care. And you may start to struggle to find the time to care for them. 

While elderly family members may prefer someone familiar to care for them, it is not always realistic. Moving them into an assisted living facility may be better for the entire family.

However, the move may feel final and trigger feelings of failure or guilt. Here are three ways to deal with this guilt. 

1. Understand your Reaction

Grief and guilt are the most common emotions family members and caregivers experience when parents need to move into an assisted living facility. 

Grief is generally associated with the death of friends, loved ones, or even a cherished pet. But people also grieve any loss or significant changes. 

When your parents leave their homes for an assisted living facility, they lose some of their independence. Also, you lose a particular way of living as a child or a caregiver. For example, sharing Sunday dinners in your childhood home will no longer be an option. Also, you will not be returning home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

Guilt is even more common. You may feel that you failed your parents or loved ones by being unable to care for them entirely. But all caregivers have limits. Within an assisted living facility or a care home, no one expects staff members to work 24-hour shifts, seven days per week. So, why do we expect family members to be able to do that? Some of those unrealistic expectations are rooted in very traditional ideas of family dynamics. In the 21st century, most people can’t conform to those ideas.

2. Prepare for the Move

You can prevent guilt long before moving your parent to assisted living. You can do this by discussing their plans for retirement before care becomes necessary. 

Have an open conversation about their ideas and yours. You can set the scene and prepare for the move without urgency. 

Consider the emotional and physical implications of a move to assisted living. If your parents or loved ones are experiencing certain medical conditions, you should discuss when they will require proper care. Providing a timeline makes it easier for everyone to get ready and allows current caregivers to make prior practical arrangements. For example, moving a parent who uses a wheelchair requires more thought than moving a parent who still drives. 

3. Select a Suitable Assisted Living Facility

Choose an environment that offers the most appropriate level of care. It can make the difference between your parents enjoying their new lifestyle for years or deteriorating quickly. 

Proper health relies on physical, mental, and behavioral well-being. Establishing this balance is essential for a facility’s overall quality of care. Consider physical facilities, but also look at the services a facility offers. 

Why Behavioral Health can Make your Loved Ones’ Lives Better

Behavioral health care helps your loved ones establish or maintain habits that make it easier to balance their physical and mental health.

Deteriorating mental health is not necessarily associated with aging. But the challenges of getting older and perhaps becoming weaker can cause a person’s mental health to deteriorate. Maintaining simple habits like regular eating patterns or exercise can help. 

Also, socializing is essential for an older person’s well-being. In assisted living communities, your parents can establish new contacts. With encouragement, new residents can make new friends. 

Behavioral health programs in assisted living facilities are game-changers for a facility’s quality of care and residents’ quality of life. A comprehensive behavioral health program should also include behavioral health counseling. It should start with a thorough assessment of a senior’s situation and mental health when they move in. 

How to Become an Advocate for your Aging Parent

The move into an assisted living community will change almost every aspect of your parent’s life. You may no longer need to care for them, but that does not mean your role will become less critical. 

You may find your role shifting to becoming an advocate for your parent. Despite the most thorough research, there may be problems with the facility you choose. 

Be transparent with the assisted living staff about any questions or issues. Some residents stay in assisted living for years, so the team that looks after them becomes like family. Getting to know them is just as important as it is for them to get to know your loved one. 

Access to behavioral health care within assisted living can smooth the transition. It can help residents and families understand and manage their emotions while navigating practical aspects of the change.

How Assisted Living Facilities can Offer Behavioral Health Care

Experienced providers like TrueCare™ bring behavioral health care to facilities when they need it. Our team can train a facility’s staff in primary behavioral health care. Because Medicare approves our services, neither the facility nor residents have to pay extra. 

Improved care and residents’ quality of life have never been more easily accessible.

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.