How do I cope with feeling sad, anyone had counselling?


I am really struggling at the moment mentally. I have my Dad in a nursing home and visit every 2 days, and my Mum living with me part of the time who has vascular dementia.
Going to the nursing home breaks my heart. I try to stay positive but the reality is that they are full of sick people just waiting to die. The things I see and hear when I go there really affects me. People calling out, people hunched over in wheelchairs, people that look like skeletons as I walk down the corridor to get to my Dad’s room. They are just laying staring up at the ceiling waiting to die. The staff all do their best of course but I just think they are such sad places. I hate it that I cannot look after my Dad myself but he has so many health needs that he needs to be somewhere where they have nursing staff to manage all of his needs. He is becoming very ‘institutionalised’ and I hate it when I visit and see a plate of half eaten ‘soft mush’ sitting there. I feel so much guilt inside that I have had to split my parents up after 62 years of marriage as they just couldn’t cope in their home anymore. Tomorrow I am ‘breaking him out’ for a day to take him to a beautiful wood full of bluebells which I know he will love, and to make him a proper home cooked meal. I think he feels really sad about being in the nursing home. He wants to go back to ‘his home’ but can hardly walk now plus all the other health problems.

There must be lots of other people that are living this situation to, or have lived it. Please, please tell me how you coped [are coping] I think of my Dad a lot and just hope he doesn’t have to endure years of living in a nursing home. I think about what a truly shitty ending it is laying in a bed, eating crappy food, listening to other people shouting out and other people making decisions about your life.

Has anyone had counselling? I have looked but can’t find any counsellors that deal with ‘elderly parents/ sadness’ situations etc. Why does no one say it how it really is and that these places are awful?? Has anyone had counselling that helped them to come to terms with the change in ‘their’ lives and seeing the change in their parents lives?

Yes, I’ve had counselling, and it was life changing.
We all know that we cannot live forever, but watching our parents at the end of their lives, wishing they were like they used to be, is only natural, but impossible at the same time.
My husband was 58 when he died suddenly from a heart attack, your parents have lived long lives, and are now suffering from the problems of old age.
A good counsellor will talk through your feelings with you - it will take a few sessions to get used to each other I expect, it did with me, but it really helped me.

I had meetings with an Admiral nurse when hubby was first diagnosed with vascular dementia. Helped a little. I also went to a group meeting but personally I found it very difficult. I need a distraction,and am the type of person who frets for other people. Both are worth trying. What suits one may not another.

I have had counselling at various times in life and find it does help, if it is the right counsellor. You can find a list of all registered counsellors here, search for some local ones then have initial chats to see which you feel most comfortable with

These are private and will costs, but I have always found it worth it.
If money is problem you can try free CBT either on line or over the phone, but it is a limited number of sessions. Just Google CBT and your area and it should come up

But, my Mum is also in a Home and although it’s sad to see people just sitting in chairs, in her Home that’s only because that’s what they want to do. For those who want there are activities, livelier lounges, their own rooms to retreat to, trips out etc etc
We are happy with the level of care she gets and see the aging residents as just sad rather than upsetting. Do you think Dad is getting good care where he is? Are the other residents getting good care? Maybe it’s not a very good Home.
Yes my mum has become more institutionalised, but that’s because she is less able to do things for herself and there do have to be rules whenever there any kind of communal living.
We try to focus in the fact she is safe, warm, fed, and that we are not exhausted by the 24/7 drudgery and worry we would have if she were tryng to live independently.
Yes, I do walk through the communal areas with blinkers on and trying not to breath in the old people’s home smells, but the benefits far outweigh these downsides.
Mum is 96, there are residents there much younger than she is and in worse shape/ability. Sadly aging is a normal part of life, we can’t stop it and it affects everyone differently

Hope this helps a little, not trying to preach, just hoping you check out whether its underlying concerns 're this particular Home or general sadness at aging being a deteriorating process


My very elderly husband has lots of health issues and I often wonder hope to get through the day.
The most helpful thing I have found is a “Carers Group” where I can let off steam, occasionally laugh, and meet with others in a similar situation. Great way to swap coping ideas.
Usually there is a group within everyone’s area, well worth giving it a try so that you get some support.

Hi Sydney,

Sorry to hear about your parents failing health. I too have had counselling at different times in my life, sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Definitely worth trying. Also worth discussing your feelings with your GP to see what they can suggest. I also found venting on this Forum very useful.

Sadly, this will not change the current situation. I wonder when dad says he wants to go “home”, does he mean his childhood home?

When my mum went into a home, I hated it too as I knew she would have been horrified. However, I also knew (and I suspect you do) that she needed more support than one person was able to give. Sadly, you cannot make a parent happy, you can only be their “champion” in the home to ensure they get the best possible support. And yes, we all hope we do not end up like it!

Sending a hug to you in this impossible situation.

Hello Anne,

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it.

My Dad entered a nursing home from hospital last August, we thought for rehabilitation but he has too many needs for my Mum to have him back at home, she has worsening vascular dementia. I live too far away to be able to pop in and keep an eye on them.
I got Dad moved to a nursing home near me so we could visit a lot more, we even took him out for the whole day yesterday which he loved. He doesn’t have dementia yet [only very mild forgetfulness] and thinks once he ‘gets better’ he can go home. He means to his own home, where my Mum still wants to live despite not coping well. They still refuse to sell their house and just want to be back there together and things go back to ‘how they were’. It is just not realistic as there were many falls, missed tablets, conmen turning up at the door, and so many other problems and me getting regular phone calls saying Dad back in hospital again. I had to practically drop everything each time, school age son, own business, etc etc and dash off up the motorway again. I had been doing that for 3 years. Ive now given up my business as just couldn’t cope with the added stress of managing it.
My husband tries to point out that my parents have been very selfish by not moving near us sooner so I could have got them settled with maybe a team of carers in. He has been very patient and sees the toll it is taking on my health and mental state. Today I had a phone call about some counselling that will be over the phone first, I am hoping it will help. I know this stage won’t last forever, but I hate feeling so much sadness. I can feel my mental health slipping, and I’m just scared if I can’t talk to someone about it soon I will get so down that I won’t be able to get back up again.
I have joined a local carers group which is ok, no one there to really chat to though about how I’m feeling. My friends in their 40’s don’t have ill parents yet so they don’t understand either. I’m hoping that the counselling phone call will help as I just can’t afford £40 a session now I have given up my business.

I now have counselling funded via my Carers Assessment. Face to face with a lovely qualified counsellor who I can go and see any time, and we can pick up where we left off. Definitely recommended.

My husband and I bought a home mid way between our parents, all within a 6 mile radius. They all kept saying they didn’t want any help, because we were so close. Never mind the fact that we were dealing with them, a business, and a son with severe learning difficulties.

Having read your posts again, can I ask
How far away do mum and dad live from you?
Does mum have a Lifeline Alarm?
What day to day support have Social Services arranged for mum?
How old is mum?

Is it time for YOU to accept that you are struggling with mum’s increasing care needs, and that either
a) She accepts more care from someone else?
b) She goes into residential care?

Has mum given you Power of Attorney?

Is counselling suitable for everybody?

I’ve wondered about it for myself. I know I’ve said before that although I still love my wife, I don’t like who/what she is now, this, along with her awful memory and (undiagnosed, but I know) early dementia signs does make things difficult.

I’m really not sure though that counselling would help me, I have my own opinions on things and am unlikely to change them because of what someone else says. I can follow instructions, but I won’t do it blindly without thinking about the consequences. In a work situation for example, I’ve got no problem with someone saying, "Go to “X” address and hang all the doors, but if they were to say I’ve got to do it wearing a pink tu-tu and a yellow bobble hat we’d have a problem.

I looked at an on-line thingy for CBT, but quite honestly I didn’t even understand the course titles to know what would have been appropriate.

I don’t know the answer, Ajay, but I do think it can help you sometimes to see things more clearly.

I was lucky enough to have counselling funded through my company (six sessions) when I was trying to decide whether to move closer to my mum. She refused to move! In the end, I did sell my flat and move closer (but not in with) to her and I did not regret it, despite all my friends telling me it was the wrong move. Like Sydney, I was exhausted by the midnight dashes up a motorway. Having a neutral person to discuss the issues with did help.

What counselling cannot do of course is change the situation, only how you cope with it.

Sydney, good that you are getting some counselling. And yes, what your parents want is entirely unrealistic.

Like you, I did not find my local Carers group that helpful. I too was in my 40s when my mum was at her worst and everyone else there was 30 years older, caring for partners. Also the sessions were during the day when I was at work.

I guess the point of my ramblings is that different things work for different people. If you are desperate enough, you try anything …

Therein lies the problem, I can cope with it, I just don’t really want to, and don’t really want to avail myself of the available alternatives to the situation. I just want my wife back.

I’ve been given a prod in the right direction, so we’ll see.

Why don’t you give it a go and see if it helps you? I can’t think of any form of counselling that’s about telling you what to do. It’s usually more about exploring alternatives and finding what works for you and looking at finding different ways to look at things. It might help it might not but it’s probably worth a try if you can find the time and/or money for it. You can always step away from it if you don’t find it helpful or explore different types of counselling. Your gp should be the best starting point for finding which sort might suit you best. Some of it is a bit like talking on this forum which you obviously find helpful. A good counsellor will make you feel comfortable talking to them.