20 February 2018

Putting Our Parents In A Home: Are We Betraying Their Kindness?

Putting Our Parents In A Home: Are We Betraying Their Kindness?

Teaching our children the act of kindness is an essential practice that we all need to undertake. And when we start to dig deep into what we should teach our children as they grow older, it makes us reassess our parents and how much they did for us. And as time goes on, we begin to appreciate what our parents did for us as we were growing up, but there comes a time when we have to be the caregiver for our parents. They get old, we all do. But while we think what we're doing for our parents is kind, there comes the point that we are unable to look after them anymore, and we naturally turn them over to professional help. Does this mean that we are betraying them as they get older?

Are We Being Cruel To Be Kind?
At the bottom of our hearts, we know that we are doing this because we can't cope any longer. However, we still can't cope with the decision we've made. At the end of the day, these decisions we make aren't taken lightly. We know the impact they will have on our parents, and when we think about putting them into a care home, it's not just about our needs and their needs. There are so many other factors to bear in mind. Finances are always one of those unfortunate factors that have an overwhelming impact on the caliber of care home we send our parents to. In addition to this, we feel like we've done the wrong thing as soon as we decorated their room to give at least a passing resemblance to their old home. It can feel like the cruelest of actions, especially when you begin to think about what they've done for you in your life. Sending them to a care home is, unfortunately, a punch to the gut for them and us.

We're Not Kind To Ourselves
We go through so many different emotions once we've made the decision to put them in a home. We feel guilt, anger, and so much anxiety. When you start to think about what goes on in care homes now, and it's been widely reported that there are various types of abuse, not just physical abuse, but emotional abuse, we have to have a well of resilience. You might have seen the story about the lady who set up a camera in her mother's nursing home so she could capture the abuse, and quite rightly, the perpetrator was fired. And before you jump to conclusions and think that every home is like this, you can undertake your own research so you can give yourself some peace of mind. Luckily, there are infinite resources online to help you along the way, even if you don't spot problems right off the bat. You can look for the signs of emotional abuse in elderly people and keep a close eye on your parents. The reality of the situation is that you can't be with them 24/7. This is why you've put them in a home in the first place. But at the very beginning, you can feel overwhelmingly guilty for putting them there. Anxiety is very common, but also this guilt for putting your parent in a nursing home can feel like a betrayal. Ultimately, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself, and this is most definitely easier said than done. But while there are infinite anxiety reduction techniques, or even visiting a health professional to help you cope is an option, knowing in your heart of hearts that you've done the right decision can take some time to realize.

What We Can All Do
Once you've decided that this was the best course of action, even if you didn't believe it at the time, you can start to push forward with the appropriate coping mechanisms. Grief is, understandably, a very common emotion. You can feel like you've lost your parents because you've put them in this home, effectively, to die. As much of a weight this can be, giving yourself time to grieve this loss can be very effective. There's no point in justifying it to yourself that you've made the right decision, you need to believe that you have. This could mean you asking your loved ones for help, or, if you feel there are family members who aren't pulling their weight, this could help share the burden. Especially if you feel that you have been the only person visiting your parents, this feeling of resentment towards the other members of your family could manifest. There's a lot for everyone to cope with, and we all cope with things in our own individual ways. Some people avoid the situation, but some deal with it head-on. For yourself, it's vital to give yourself that time. And remember, their illness isn't your fault. We all feel that we put our parents in a nursing home because they are a burden to us now. But the fact is that it wasn't you that caused the decline. Feeling that you've betrayed your parents is a complete misnomer, and while this emotion is very natural, the realization will come to you in the end. It's one of those things that takes time.

Life is precious, and when you see your children growing up, while at the same time, seeing your parents give in to Old Mother Time, it's certainly a very visceral moment in our lives. As our parents get older, they rely on us for more help, and there comes the point where we can't do anything anymore. This is why care homes exist in the first place, and as guilty as we all feel for making that decision, it's the most realistic option. Unfortunately, we all have to work harder to earn a living, and we see that it's harder to be kind to one another now because of so many facets of life admin. And you know that this is the right decision, you aren't betraying them, although it feels like it.

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