Care Home Guilt

My mum had a stroke around 20 years ago, until August time between my dad and myself and at home carers for the last 12 months, we’ve looked after her. She recently became unsafe with her mobility and after an initial few weeks in respite, it was decided it was safer for her to stay in residential care. My heart is breaking. I feel like I’ve let her down and abandoned her. I’m visiting most days or at least every other day and my dad goes at least twice a week. She keeps getting water infections so her health is up and down. It almost feels like I’m being punished for her being there, that not only do I have the guilt of her being there, that she also getting ill. Feels like a cycle of a couple of days she ok, then ill and low for days. I was initially happy with the home she’s in, we looked at loads, but it’s got me second guessing and worrying about every little thing. I feel like I’ve no one to talk to and I feel so lonely.

I think you need to look at the situation from another angle. The decision was made at the time on the facts at that time. Things do change and when we have space to think. Our minds start to play tricks we have more thinking space. Your mother may have got water infections etc. Even if she had been at home with you. It’s not always necessary because of lack of care. Do you feel there has been lack of care. Guilt is a strange word. Turn that around to concern. Does mum have any memory issues.

Thank you for the reply.
I thought she was being well cared for, it does only seem to be since she has had the continuous water infections that she seems to have become lower in mood. She isn’t 100% with her memory however there’s no dementia and she has capacity. She has communication difficulties due to stroke.
I suppose I thought after the initial upheaval of her moving into a home, she’d eventually settle and things would get easier and selfishly I’d get some time back to myself. At the moment whenever I try to do something for myself I feel guilty that I’m doing something but my mums in there by herself. I know thinking logically she’s safe and I’m no longer worried my dad can’t cope, but it just doesn’t feel like that.

Vicky, can I suggest you ask your doctor to recommend a counsellor, who can help you dump the guilt, which is now ruining your life?
Counselling helped me dump the guilt about what I couldn’t do for my frail elderly mum, but to feel PROUD for all the help I’d given her for the previous 30+ years.
Mum has been incredibly lucky to have a kind daughter living nearby who could support her at home as long as possible, not living far from home unable to do anything.
Unfortunately, it may be the case that she is getting repeated UTI’s because she is poorly and her body doesn’t have the strength to fight the infection. My mum had repeated infections too.
Mum isn’t “in there by herself” she has a TEAM of people to look after her 24/7!

You need to slowly withdraw and let the home do more for mum, if she is constantly waiting for your visits she will never settle properly. Maybe just visit twice a week. Let dad do the majority of visiting. Now is the time for you to gradually rebuild a life of your own, not feeling guilty, but feeling happy.

My mother had chronic uti and it would make her weak and affect her mood. I expect it’s not uncommon to feel guilty. However, given what you describe, you made a sensible decision, the best for all involved. It’ll take a while to adjust to a new routine.

Hello Vicky
I understand your feelings. My late husband was in a nursing home because of strokes and sadly dementia. I too had guilt feelings big time. You will learn that you have nothing to feel guilty about, lots to feel sad about. Visiting every day, started to affect my own well being, so gradually cut it back to every other day,( Fortunately my family visited him too. Between us we oversaw his care, and saw the management, or staff if we had concerns.
Allow yourself to do this, accept it is the best way for your mother, and dad too. Give the staff time to get used to your mother, and for her to get used to them. I doubt the UTIs are caused by the home. My hubby had them when at home with me, in hospital, and at the nursing home. As long as the home are treating it. Don’t be surprised if she has confusion from them.You are allowed to read her records.
Take care of yourself, if you become exhausted, you will not be fit enough to visit anyway. Keep your emotional strength up for the visits.
I loved my husband very much, and realised the best thing was for me to visit with a happy face, and check he was being cared for, plus try not to feel so much guilt as it wasn’t helping him, my family or me.

Have a read it will outline what we are saying.

Although it’s attached to Alzhiemers UK it so relates to all carers.

Thank you everyone, just reading your reply’s is helpful to me and reassuring.

I’ve visited this morning whilst the GP was there and a plan is in place to try and mange the infections and sore skin, so hopefully that will help.

I’m on the waiting list for counselling sessions but considering private sessions as I realise I need some help emotionally to manage and I’ve been waiting since August.

Many thanks all and I’ll have a read of the link.

Vicky :slight_smile:

I had two counsellors, the first free, arranged by the local Carers Group, but I wasn’t told I was only allowed 6 sessions, so just as I began to feel comfortable with the counsellor, and started to let my guard down, it stopped!
Now I have a private counsellor who the GP recommended, and I see at the GP surgery, I can have as many sessions as I need, without waiting. Now they are funded as part of my Carers Assessment! The first money I’ve ever had for myself out of the LA in all my 40 years as a carer. So maybe ask for your Carers Assessment to be updated and ask for funding for your counselling?

Thank you bowlingbun, I hadn’t thought of that. I just know I can’t continue as I am, and need help to make sense of my feelings.

Thanks again

I can honestly say it was life changing for me.

I looked after mum for many years, she and dad lived about 6 miles away, but dad worked away a lot.
Like so many others, it was first bits of shopping, odd trips to the doctors but gradually it was more and more, most of the time mum was adamant that she only wanted me.

Counselling made me understand that I had a right to say no, or better still, just avoid jobs.
The biggest leap for me was when I realised that despite not having to do things any more, to know it was OK to not behave like an obedient child, I still wanted to do things for mum, but not with a feeling of duty any more, just pure love within me, for her, my mum.
We were as different as chalk and cheese in many ways, but I never for one moment doubted that mum loved me, even if she did have a funny way of showing it at times.

The last year, when she was very infirm, in a nursing home, so others doing most things for her, meant that again I was at last free to be more of a daughter, rather than slave. To buy her little treats, to spend quality time talking about the old days, buying fresh flowers for her, or even better cutting them from her own garden, until it was sold.
Neither of us wanted residential care, but it became the only option left as mum became more and more frail.

Try to feel SAD, not guilty. You are not the one who gave mum her health problems, but you have done as much as anyone could to support her living at home for as long as possible. With increasing age comes increasing disability, something we are powerless to change. What we all want most of all is the one thing we cannot have, the good health of our youthful years!

You describe it well bowlingbun, when you talk about being an ‘obedient child’. I suppose I’m like that with both my parents, my mum in the care home and my dad now living alone. Not that either of them really insist on me doing everything or anything for that matter, I just feel like I must do it all for them! My dads quite active really, regular at walking football and goes shopping etc, I just feel sad at him now on his own, but I’m also relieved he’s not constantly caring for my mum as I know that was getting too much.

It’s good to hear about other people’s experiences as it’s quite difficult to find people who have experienced similar in the ‘real world’.

Thank you :slight_smile:

Our parents are very good at knowing which “buttons to press” in their children.
I was always taught never to say “No” or “I won’t” to my parents. It took counselling to make me realise I was still doing it!
My mum always took the view that I was younger, I should do whatever she couldn’t, even when I was hobbling around on two sticks waiting for knee replacements after a car accident nearly killed me. Somehow, she just didn’t see that I couldn’t do what I used to do.

You mentioned sore skin. Is she on an air mattress and hospital bed? Sounds like she may be prone to developing pressure sores. Those are so painful and difficult to heal. Please make sure the home is taking this sore skin seriously.

Thank you Rosemary, yes I think she’s on the correct mattress and cushions in her chair. The Gp examined her today and think it’s sore skin down below rather than pressure sores. gp wondered if the skin could require antibiotics to clear and she’s been prescribed more barrier cream to help. I really hope it does the trick. I do sometimes find it difficult to chat to the more senior staff at the home to check creams are being applied correctly, as they all seem so busy, and always tell me that yes the are applied, I’m not always sure they are.

Thank you bowlingbun, that’s definitely me! I never chatted back to my parents, was always the ‘good’ one and suppose I am still stuck in that cycle a bit. Makes sense, it really does.

Thank you both :slight_smile:

That was a really lovely post bowlingbun » “03 Jan 2020 15:03”. Makes a lot of sense too.