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My dad has been declining for a few years, but overall was able to get around and was fine. This year he had hand surgery and neglected his physical therapy. He also was having trouble walking, even with a cane (walker is out due to not working on his hand).
Now he has lived alone for year, but after his surgery he stayed with my mom (they are divorced). This of course happened at the height of COVID. Recently he fell twice and she needed help from the neighbor to get him up. After the last fall we convinced him to go to the hospital to be evaluated. They kept him for a few days and recommend therapy for walking and balance.
it’s now two weeks later and he is improving but the staff tells us he can’t live alone. He is a fall risk and he can’t/won’t use his right hand.
Knowing I can’t care for him 24/7 and neither can my mom we are making the decision that he has to stay long term at the home.
Now I feel terrible. He was moved from the hospital to the nursing home so quickly I couldn’t see him. He spent 14 days in isolation due to COVID. Now he is in the normal area but it’s still locked down. They are confined to their room. No community center, or rehab gym. We may start visits next week (we are set for Thursday) but the state could change the rules at any time.
We all know that this is the best decision but I still feel horrible. I can’t go and be with him to make the transition easier. I can’t hug him or shake his hand. I feel like I let him down. Is this normal? Why does the right decision feel so bad?
sorry for rambling, it’s been a long week.

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I’m in the same boat. I feel terrible. I talked to a counselor about my guilt. One thing she said that did help me on some level was that personal regret and situational regret needs to be separate. I’ve been saying to myself that I regret that the situation is what it is. I regret the timing of my dad’s decline. I do not regret making a decision that keeps him safe and takes everyone’s needs into account.

It’s not a perfect solution but it has helped me overcome some of the crippling guilt I was feeling.

I hope on some level it helps you also.
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Dear CallMeVon,
I'm so sorry you and your mom both are going through such a difficult time where your dad is concerned. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on everyone's lives especially when it comes to caring for an elderly parent or anyone for that matter.
I'm sure all that has happened in a relatively short amount of time is jarring especially when you're being told "he can't live alone" due to him being a fall risk.
Rest assured please know you are not alone with how the COVID has played such a huge role in the feelings you are experiencing and many others of us are feeling. It's funny how so many of us feel guilt for not being there or being able to see them when the pandemic is completely out of our hands and control - and I guess that's why it's so difficult. Everyone in this type of situation is experiencing exactly what you mentioned: leaving the hospital to go to the nursing home where you couldn't see him; spending 14 days in isolation because of COVID; going through the lockdown; being confined to their room, no activities etc. This is what's happening all across our country. It is so heartbreaking to say the least.
My mom nearly died in April due to severe dehydration, contracting COVID and a few other issues. She's 95 with Alzheimer's. Believe me, I felt horrible knowing my mom was in the hospital in an isolated wing seeing staff in full gear - the mask was black like a gas mask. I can only imagine how frightening that must have been for her and that she couldn't understand what was happening and why wasn't I, her only child, there with her. I was able to talk to her on the phone and I would tell her "mom, I wish Rick (my husband) and I could be there with you, but we aren't allowed to even be in the hospital at all much less in your room." Twice the hospital had an iPad they were passing around to the patients who had families so I was grateful for that. We thought she was going to die in the hospital and I was so upset at the thought of us not being able to hold her hand, give her a hug and a kiss. She didn't die, but she was so weak she couldn't walk so she was sent directly to a rehab facility. Thankfully, her room was by a window and we would go everyday to visit since I hadn't seen her since February 28th. Upon leaving rehab three weeks later, we found a new facility and placed her in memory care. I was able to get her a small, private apartment and it had a window. We visited daily along with following her from the rehab facility to her new home so she wouldn't be scared. Once there, she had to be quarantined for two weeks since she had had COVID even though they tested her again prior to being allowed to move in. My mom has fallen at least six times in such a short span of time. They were just getting to the point of trying to get her to go to the dining room when this facility got their first case of COVID (we just found out last night that the person who resided in the memory care unit, passed away) so now my mom is confined in her room once again. Because we live in one of the worst states with COVID being rampant there is no visitations being allowed indefinitely. She has hospice now and they told me if she were to be actively dying, they would allow me to come in and be with her so I'm relieved about that.
You need to keep reminding yourself that this IS the best decision for your dad. I know you feel horrible and like you've let him down but, you haven't. I would say yes, this is normal and natural when you love someone. In my opinion the reason the "right decision feels so bad" is because things simply didn't play out the way we would have liked them to which is "perfectly." There is nothing perfect in any of our situations. For me, I've learned to look for and find no matter how small - the blessings in this unprecedented time and one of them for me is - my mom did not die in the hospital and I am now able to see her even if it is through a window! May you find your blessing(s)! Hugs to you -
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gdaughter Jul 19, 2020
this is so wrong...so heartbreakingly wrong...that someone has to be deemed "actively dying" before they make an allowance for someone to come in...all these precious moments being lost...really stolen...no matter how justifiable and good the reason, the legalities of it...it's just inhuman and wrong. I don't know what the answer is...thinking of you...
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Be sure that you didn’t ‘let him down’. You know that. You don’t have a magic wand, to make him better, to backtrack and make sure he did his physiotherapy, or to wish CV away. Remember that everyone hates this stage, and that family are often asked to stay away for a couple of weeks to let the new resident settle in – just another take on ‘making the transition easier’ that you might have had to go with anyway.

Stay cool and hope for better things. Use the time constructively to give yourself and your mother a break and a rest. If he does improve and is allowed to leave, you will need to be in good shape to help. That’s the best thing you can do right now for all of you. Very best wishes, Margaret
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I understand. Mom is in assisted living and they locked down and called us afterward. It wasn't right. We should have had the chance to explain it to her. She doesn't understand, and now it's July. Her dementia has advanced very quickly during this time. Window visits aren't enough. They make her sad. Plus, who knows what goes on inside now that family can't see loved ones?
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gdaughter Jul 19, 2020
Nailed it.
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Because it is the hardest thing most of us ever have to do.

I bawled like a baby when I had to place my dad.

The things that you have to stay focused on: he is getting care, he is getting meals and snacks, he has someone able to help him 24/7, he has other seniors that he can interact with and he is safe.

My dad hated it so much that he actually got busy getting better and has since moved into his own place and is doing well. Not saying that you will experience the same situation, but you will see your dad stabilizing because of the care he is getting. This of course is assuming that he is not dying.

When you see him, stay upbeat and positive about the place he now calls home. Not always easy, but really important to keep your difficulty with the situation as far from him as possible.

You will get used to the new normal for your dad and find that you don't have to worry as much about his wellbeing.
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As others noted, this is often one of the hardest things we have to deal with. There's no harm in feeling sad that this is the way it has to be. However you shouldn't feel bad that he had to be moved. It does make the move harder when he had to be isolated and you can't visit. Our mother has been in MC 4+ years and they have been in lock down for months now. She doesn't have an accessible window for "glass" visits, wouldn't do well with any kind of visual contact (Zoom, etc - I don't have FB) and I didn't have her set up with a phone when she moved in (can hardly hear anything, and on top of that she would only call to ask for a ride home!) So, I have not been able to visit or let her see me for months now. Hoping she will still remember me once they allow us back in (they are arranging outdoor visits, but given her bad hearing along with having to stay 6' away, it would be difficult to communicate. I did ask if they had a whiteboard we could use, but they only offered to have an aide sit with her and write down what I say - not very helpful and it would be better for them not to have to tie up an aide for a short visit. A whiteboard or easel with paper would work, but I don't have those. I think they do, but they aren't offering!)

That said - in general (more for those with dementia) the staff recommends not visiting for a few weeks, to allow adjustment. In his case, if he doesn't have any cognitive issues, it makes it harder and sadder. Hopefully he has/can use a phone and you've managed to maintain contact that way. If you can contact him by phone, keep the conversation light and upbeat. Focus on how you love him and want him to work hard on regaining mobility (I know it's his hand - even with the rehab gym closed, there should be exercises he can do to strengthen his hand.) Encourage him to work harder so he can maybe go home or move to AL instead of NH.

As for feeling bad - how bad would you feel if you left him in his home, with or without aides, if he fell, injured himself, etc? Rest easier knowing that when he does need help or falls, he has help available. Falls will happen no matter where he lives or who is with him. So, the best scenario is to be in a place where he can get help sooner rather than later! Bad would be allowing him to stay home, where he will not care for himself properly and/or could fall, get injured or sick without anyone knowing!

"I feel like I let him down. Is this normal?" For many, yes. You've done nothing wrong, so you should focus more on the fact that you are not letting him down, you are helping him!

"Why does the right decision feel so bad?" Mainly because this isn't how we wanted to deal with it, but often what we want and what we need don't mesh that well. You made the right decision.

Revisit the decision later, if he will work on regaining his abilities. Some people, if they have a reasonable goal, will work harder to get better and get out of the NH!
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I think we are left with these decisions because there is no other way to go. That doesn't mean they are easy. That doesn't mean they don't hurt for everyone. That doesn't mean they aren't sad and we aren't allowed to mourn. There is just no way to fix all this end of life change. No way to make it good. I am so sorry. Your feelings are normal, and they are grief and helplessness. I am so glad that you didn't use the "guilt" word, because so many do. That is suggesting that we are Saints. That we are omnipotent. That we have answers. We don't. We have our grief and we have our trying and we have our love and our mourning. And those are all appropriate. I am so sorry.
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Oh yes! I am 4 months into a similar scenario..I have just adjusted to placing mom..I now see she is safe, has improved with the care provided.. It will get easier..
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Many facilities are arranging FACETIME visits.
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I am sorry that your dad is not compliant with his care. It would have been better if he would do his therapy on his hand, but he is not. I am sorry he is a fall risk, but he needs good hand strength to manage walking aids. It seems that falls were inevitable. If your mom - or you - can not lift him without help, he needs to be someplace where help is available 24/7. His placement is a good thing, you are making sure he is well taken care of.

You are dealing with loss. Your expectations of helping your dad transition can not be met at this time. Instead of dwelling on what can not be, think - and act - on how you can communicate with your dad: window visits, phone calls, online... until you can be with him face to face.
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