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Broken Promises: Are They Okay When It Comes to Caregiving? When Is It Time to Look Into Assisted Living?

Many adult children make promises to their aging parents about the future that they ultimately cannot keep due to unforeseen circumstances. These promises might include statements such as, “I’ll never force you into assisted living,” or “I promise I’ll never take away your independence.” Spouses who find themselves as the primary caregiver for their partners may also be in situations in which they’re forced to break a promise. Some caregiver spouses may have originally promised to take care of their loved one’s needs without bringing in hired help but find themselves struggling with the responsibilities. These promises are often broken, especially after major health changes such as a stroke, heart attack, or a diagnosis of advanced cancer or dementia. While it may cultivate feelings of guilt, sometimes it is in the best interest of your loved one to break your promise. 

When Breaking a Promise is the Right Thing to Do 

If you find yourself in a situation where you may need to break a promise to your loved one, it’s important to remember that you didn’t make the promise to eventually break it. Caregiving can be an overwhelming experience that takes more than just one individual to make work. Many caregivers may need more help when they experience the following situations:

  • Social isolation. Caregiving can be socially isolating—not only for the caregiver but also for the one receiving the care. Caregiving can result in physical injury, chronic stress, and feelings of anxiety and depression. According to the Caregiver Space, keeping your loved one at home has the potential to set everyone up for social isolation and group depression. 
  • Safety concerns. If your loved one is becoming violent and combative, it may be time to seek alternative accommodations or additional help in the home. Many individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia experience violent behavior that may result in verbal and physical abuse directed toward their caregiver. Some additional questions from our tip sheet may help you identify other safety concerns for your loved one: Is your loved one likely to wander off and not be able to find their way home? Are you nervous that they might not make the safest decisions if left alone? Has your loved one left the stove on or left the water running for an unknown amount of time?
  • Health issues. Caregiving is a physically and emotionally taxing responsibility. It can also pose harm to our overall well-being. If you’re suffering from health issues and caregiving is exacerbating these concerns, you may consider asking for help with your caretaking responsibilities. 
  • Frustration. Experiencing feelings of frustration and irritability is common when it comes to caregiving. If you relate to the following questions, you may consider breaking your promise to enhance the quality of life for your loved one: Do you feel like you’ve given up who you are as a person, to fulfill the role of a caregiver? Are you low on energy and falling ill more frequently as a result of caregiving? Is it hard to maintain your composure when tending to personal care needs?

When to Consider Assisted Living and Additional Help 

Many caregivers promise their loved ones that they will never move them to a caring community. However, if their loved one develops a physical change or dementia, they may realize that caring for their loved one at home is no longer realistic and feel immense guilt when breaking their promise. Here are some tips to help you through the changes:

Educate yourself about senior living options: Years ago the options for senior care were much different. Older adults today often recall experiences with family members or friends who were in less-than-desirable facilities. Thankfully, senior living options have advanced light years beyond the outdated options of decades ago and they continue to evolve. Explore these new options and ask questions. 

Reframe your perspective: Rather than taking the position that moving your loved one to a community is doing something “to them”, try to consider that this is something you are doing “for them”. A senior living community has a whole team of people to do all the jobs you do as a caregiver each day and a whole lot more. Imagine your loved one exercising, socializing, and enjoying worship services and daily entertainment in addition to receiving the care they need daily. 

Think about what your loved one would want for you: A memory diagnosis or severe physical impairment can often be a game-changer. Most people would never expect a friend or family member to care for them through all of the complex cognitive and physical changes that take place with dementia or other illnesses. 

Honestly evaluate your situation: If the promises you made in the past are causing you to delay getting the help you need or to feel extreme guilt, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I provide my loved ones with all they need to live a full life (i.e. socialization, cognitive stimulation, and physical care)? 
  • Is my loved one safe at home at all times? 
  • Can I successfully manage my responsibilities and my caregiving role?
  • Am I taking care of my own physical and emotional needs?

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living 

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how difficult asking for help can be, especially when you are caring for a spouse or family member. Our assisted living communities at Maplewood Senior Living provide extra support and medical care to allow you and your family to spend quality time with your loved one. Our individualized care plans ensure that each resident receives the care and support they need to live happy and healthy lives. To learn more about our offerings, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you! 

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