Wednesday Workshop – Next Steps: How to Move Forward After Placing a Loved One (Part 1)
Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop Caregiver Conversation.
Elayne: Hi! This is Elayne Forgie with the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center. I’m here with Becky, who joined us last time for our caregiver conversation on “Making the Nursing Home Decision” and today we’re going to talk about “Next Steps” and how you, as a caregiver, can take your life back after placing your loved one.
Elayne: So, transitioning into an assisted living community or skilled nursing center can be pretty emotionally challenging – not just for the person that’s going to be moving that day but also for the caregiver. Today we’re going to talk about some of the things that you can expect as you begin to take this next step in your caregiving journey.
Becky: At the beginning, on the first day even, what can I expect as far as how my loved one is going to react and how do I manage the emotions that come up? Maybe the fear, the anger, and the confusion that come up that first day.
Elayne: So, on that very first day there’s going to be a lot of emotions involved. One is – your loved one may express anger and fear which could cause you to feel guilty about your decision and you may even find that you begin to second-guess the whole nursing home decision process that you went through. I think knowing that there is going to be time during that day where your emotions are going to be all over the map – can prepare you. It’s when caregivers don’t know what to expect and they anticipate a smooth day with no bumps in the road then it makes it even more difficult.
So as you think about that day, what is your biggest fear?
Becky: That my mom will be angry and she’ll lash out and then I’ll feel guilty for leaving her there basically.
Elayne: So, those are all normal emotions and I would say that you should expect that, you know. I think that, you know, that may be brutally honest, but I think that caregivers need to know that it’s unlikely that your loved one isn’t going to be angry and scared. No matter what anyone may tell you this is going to be a big change for them and that’s why when we talk about the nursing home decision and placement we do talk about a pre-placement, placement and then post-placement process and that day is just one part of the process that you’re going through and that your mom is going through. The first day – the challenges are going to be there – mostly emotional. Allow yourself to go through those emotions. Reach out for help and guidance and follow the cues and the advice that the memory care team gives you because they’ve been down this road before and they may have a whole set of thoughts and ideas that will help you on that day.
And then there’s that whole first week. So on the first week, what are some of the things you think might be coming up that might challenge you?
Becky: I think my mom will be begging to come back home. I think the actual change will be very confusing for her as to where things are and, you know, learning the new schedule for her.
Typically if she gets upset or confused refuses to eat, which is a real challenge. Do I go and visit her every day or is that make it harder for her – for me to show up everyday, the first week? If I don’t, will she feel abandoned?
Elayne: So, you know that first week what we try to tell caregivers is to allow your loved one to make that transition. A lot of assisted living communities and skilled nursing centers will ask family members to kind of not visit very often if at all that first week. That allows your loved one to establish a routine. It allows the memory care team to work with her and get to know her a little bit. Limiting your visits that week also allows you to get your feet back underneath you because you’re starting this one journey without your love living at home. I recommend that you take the guidance and suggestions of the team and if they tell you that kind of not come in that week – you’ve got to kind of try to follow that advice.
So, if you were to do that, what type of emotions would you feel then?
Becky: Guilt for not showing up. Horrible guilt for leaving her there. Probably a gamut of emotions but those are the two biggest things. One, that I don’t show up and she’ll feel left behind, for a lack of a better term, and too guilty that I even left there.
Elayne: Guilt is common and you’re probably going to feel that, that day. Caregivers also say that they have some concern after the first day, or two, or six that their loved one is an adjusting as quickly as they thought they might. That’s common in this whole journey that you’re on. And then, sadness oftentimes – which is a separate emotion from guilt – sadness that your loved one is confused, maybe even more so than they were at home.
What we’ll do is, we’ll have a part two of this series on helping you take the next steps and we’ll pick that up next week.
In the meantime, I invite all caregivers to reach out to the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center.
We’re here to guide you to support you throughout your journey. Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!