I just moved my father, who has Alzheimer's disease, into a nursing home. I feel so guilty. What can I do?


Try reminding yourself that you just took the steps necessary to ensure that your father will be living in a place where he'll be safe and comfortable, and able to get the care and attention he needs 24/7. Keep in mind that as his disease progresses, your father's needs will increase: Eventually he will need help with feeding and toileting, bathing and dressing. As his "internal clock" shifts (a common problem in Alzheimer's patients), he may need people who can be up with him at odd hours.

If he becomes aggressive or starts to wander, he'll need a secure environment with staff trained to deal with these behaviors. Unless you're blessed with unlimited resources and help, you probably can't meet his needs at home fully and safely.

Though you may feel guilty (who wouldn't in this situation), you really did the unselfish thing by determining what he needed, instead of what would have made you feel better. You're going to continue to be part of his world, so stop beating yourself up for not being able to be all things to your father. Try to move the focus from your feelings of guilt to thinking about how you and he can enjoy the time you have together in his new setting.

Dr. Mary A. Languirand, PhD is a clinical psychologist who co-authored "When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In-Home Care." Read her full biography

Dr. Mary Languirand, PhD

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Mary A. Languirand, PhD, is in private practice in Garden City, NY, and counsels individuals, families, and health professionals in skilled nursing facilities. She co-authored (with Robert Bornstein, PhD) "When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In-Home Care."

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My mom in law has dementia, gets confused easily and has to have help during the day. She is in an AL setting and it is just what she needed. She get any help she needs, good meals, medicine on time, activities to do, people to visit with, etc. We felt guilty at first too, but when swe saw the difference in made in her life, we knew it was the right decision. We do go and check on her weekly, taking her out when she feel like it. I also have made friends of the staff and they are real good at calling me or letting me know if there is a problem of any kind. I hope this has helped you out some.
@aberry: I have the same experience, I see an improvement in my dad because of the attention and care he is getting from many people. He is never alone, feels safe and secure, and is getting great care. Of course he wouldn't have chosen this environment if he didn't have Alzheimer's, but he does and it has to be dealt with.

@melaniemorris: I'm glad you have been able to take care of someone in your own home, but not everyone is in that position. Your reply is judgemental and not very kind. Telling someone they should feel guilty is something you have no right to do.
Thank you for this, it helps!