I have guilt from placing a loved one in a memory care facility.

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My dad has dementia and lived with my mother. Mother has a very short fuse, no patience or tolerance. She was downright mean to my dad and refused to learn anything about his illness or proper ways to take care of him. She refuses any home health, etc. She has been telling me for months that she can't take it any more. She told me basically to get him out of her house and she never wants to see him again. I made arrangements to move him to a nice ALF memory care near home. Mom refused to help select the place, fill the paperwork or to participate the day he was taken there. I am an only child and I did all of this on my own. He was moved almost 2 weeks ago. Now mom cries every day from the guilt. I don't know what to say. I truly don't think she tried to take care of him and I think her meanness crossed the line toward abuse. However, I also know we all have our limits and she's 75 herself. Mostly here to vent but appreciate any and all input! PS - I've been telling her for at least a year to please be nice to him, otherwise someday she would regret her behavior. Now she does.


Upstream, my mother was like that, as she felt it was "her job" to keep her husband [my Dad] healthy. And if Dad got sick, oh gosh what would the neighbors and relatives think. In her mind they would think she wasn't a good wife. That is how the much older generation felt.

When it comes to a spouse having dementia, it is so very difficult to see the love of your life lose their ability to remember things or to think correctly. You feel like you need to keep correcting them and when that doesn't work, patience does wear thin.  Not everyone is cut out to be a full-time caregiver and there is nothing wrong with that.

You need to remember that your Mom is physically and emotionally overwhelming to a point of crashing and burning. This isn't the retirement plan that your parents had dreamed about. She is scared of losing him, too.

I am not surprised that your Mom had you do all the leg work and paper work to have Dad move to a higher level of care. That way, she can honestly say to her neighbors/friends that "she" didn't put him there... [sigh].

I believe we all go through some type of guilt when a love one needs to move out. But we need to remember we are doing this for their own best interest. Dad is now among people who are familiar with his health issues, and know exactly how to handle him if there is a situation.

My own Dad went from Independent Living right after my Mom had passed, and later into Assisted Living/Memory Care. He was happy as a clam living there. His 3 favorite times of the day were breakfast, lunch, and dinner :)
fregflyer, thank you for your kind response! Yes, she felt the need to correct him on everything, and mostly that just befuddled him more. The situation got nasty and I did what I had to do (moving him). I felt it was in his best interest in the long run because he was not getting proper care. I also felt that she was so burned out that it would not be long before she would no longer be able to take care of herself. I do not feel guilty as I was totally backed into a corner. My parents moved us across the country when I was a kid to get away from all family, and then the last decade they've run off what few friends they had. So there is literally no one in their lives anymore. I definitely see that isolation is something to avoid in retirement.  I am glad your father liked assisted living, and I'm hoping mine will too.  It's definitely a better environment for him.
As parents, most of us try to teach our children that actions have consequences. Sometimes we allow them to suffer the consequences, and sometimes we step in to stop the action and therefore prevent the consequences, but one way or another we want them to know that if you do this then that is apt to happen.

And yet as adult children we seem to think we can/should magically protect our parents from the consequences of their own decisions. Upstream, your mother decided that she need not bother to try to understand your father's disease and his needs. She decided that she didn't want him in her home any longer. And now she feels terrible. Why shouldn't she? Isn't that the natural outcome of decisions she made?

I wouldn't rub it in. I wouldn't say, "I told you so," or "this is all your fault." Continue to be kind and loving toward her. But don't take on responsibility for her behavior. You did the right thing. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Perhaps the same cannot be said of your mother.
jeannegibbs, thank you for your response! No I'm not rubbing it in, just trying to roll with it. It's difficult because there are so many things I want to say, but I know that would only make the situation worse. I told her a couple of months ago that she would have many lonely years to think about her recent behavior, and she said I was probably right. Personally I've been a good daughter and I feel that I deserve better than being put in this position, but it is what it is.
You did the best thing
I wouldn't condone anyone being cruel to a person who has dementia, but, I certainly would not fault a 75 year-old person for not taking on the around the clock care for a dementia patient either. Healthy 30 year-old people would struggle with this. It's just not feasible.

It's also not just the physical exertion, but, mental stress of the behavior, which can be constant and exasperating. I'd be thankful that your mom recognized that she was not able to provide this care and let him be placed somewhere that he could get proper care. I'd try to comfort her and the both of you provide support to your dad in the way of cards, visits, phone calls, etc. He will still need care, even, though in AL.
Sunnygirl1, thank you for your answer. I've been struggling to understand and accept my mom's behavior. It was hard to watch her demean him continually (to his face) and try to make him feel worthless. Sprinkle in some foul language. Now that she's feeling guilty I am trying to re-assure her that this was the right thing to do and that he is in a better living arrangement. Since we moved him I have yet to bring up her bad behavior and I probably never will. I will just have to accept that it happened that way and move on. Thanks all for the responses!
I see red flags waving - your folks moved to get away from family. Your parents ran off all their friends in the last 10 years. Your mother ran off your dad.

I'm thinking your mom has a major problem, possibly with narcissism. Not much you can do for that, except protect people from her. Mthr was helped some by anti depressants and I saw improvemet in a week. Of course, she would not admit there was anything wrong while she was in her better mind, so I was not able to get her on anti depressants until she was in memory care when it was too late.

I believe you did exactly what was the right thing with your dad - you protected him from her venom. I think you are right that she might have crossed the line to abuse, but you have stopped it. I know an old couple, and both needed nursing home care. The dad refused to be in the same home with his wife as he said he deserved a break. You've given your dad that break - Kudos!
Sunnygirl, I would not fault a 75 year-old person for not taking on the around the clock care for a dementia patient. I would fault a spouse, though, for demeaning and cruel remarks and behavior that borders on abusive. Given that Mom has a history of alienating people, perhaps this is a mental health issue for her. Perhaps she is more to be pitied than blamed. But in any case, her behavior was wrong. Being cruel to your spouse when they are at their most vulnerable is wrong. Refusing to bring in help is wrong. Placing the spouse can be a very loving act, but "I never want to see him again" is wrong.

I greatly admire Upstream's intention of being kind and comforting to her mother. Just because Mother was cruel, and was wrong, does not mean that Daughter has to act that way.

But let's tell it like it is. This wife's behavior toward her husband was cruel. If she now feels guilty, so be it. Unearned guilt is harmful, but I think this woman earned the guilt she is feeling. But she is Upstream's mother, and she will continue to receive love from her daughter. That is as it should be.

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