How do I deal with the pain of placing my mom in a nursing home?

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i recently placed my mother in a nursing home a week before Christmas, because she fell and i rushed her to the er and thankfully no broken bones or concussions, she had been falling a lot recently and becoming really unstable.that's when i learned she could no longer walk or stand alone by herself. that's also when i made the decision to place her in a nursing home because i could no longer care for her in the ways that she needed. my little brother is the only one that disagrees with my decision. i am extending my care to the best of my knowledge where i have placed her. i have been her care giver for the last few years do to her alzteimers and her declining health, but she has lived with me for 23 yrs and been my best buddy and friend the whole time. everywhere i look i see things of hers, i cant go into her room i keep the door shut, i find myself crying a lot over everything even the little things, i know i have done what is best for her and me, as i am soon to be 59 yrs old and a 2 time cancer survivor as well as a heart failure survivor. its very hard to have watched her disintegrate before my very eyes, my family is very supportive, we keep occupying my time to keep me busy but i still find myself very depressed and crying, i miss her so much! i miss all of the silly things she did that made us laugh and joke, i never thought i could miss her grunts or her fussing. i now know i can go visit her and spend quality time with her that i couldn't before, but it hurts so much when she asks why she cant come home, she even found the phone in her new room and called home and asked why she couldn't come home and it hurt to know she is trying so hard but we cant bring her home. i need some input, help, or guidance on how to coup with this and how to move past the pain and depression.

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Dear prettymom46 - what you have shared here is so important and beautifully expressed because you have spoken from the heart. What you are experiencing is to be expected, but sadly most caregivers don't allow themselves to feel the emotions. Honoring your feelings is really important now. You are mourning the physical absence of your mom as well as the reality that her condition has changed to the point where you needed to get her some professional help. This is the most difficult decision family caregivers have to make, but ultimately, you have done the most compassionate thing for your mom. Sometimes, it's impossible to continue to care for someone at home, especially when the medical conditions are more than you can manage. On another level you are feeling the emptiness that comes from being a caregiver once those responsibilities are over. Allow yourself to feel all of the sadness. Cry, cry and cry some more, but also take some time to journal about your life. Find ways to honor yourself. Dream about what you would like your life to look like. Be gentle with yourself. You are probably experiencing the release of physical and mental exhaustion, which is another reason why you can't stop crying. Just let it out.

Your Mom still needs you. Visit her often and try and get her involved in any activities that might be available at her new place. Maybe she'll meet some new people. When she asks you why she can't come home; if you feel like she can fully understand you can tell her that it's because she is getting better care here. Reassure her that you will come and visit often...that you will bring her treats (favorite foods), that you'll take her outside when you can...that you aren't going anywhere. She's going through an adjustment period right now - just like you are, and it's going to take some time. But often what happens, is one day out of the blue, you show up to visit and she might be sitting with a new friend. Stay in close contact with the staff at the nursing home and let them know that you will be very visible and visit often.

For now...be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the emotion. Visit your mom and really, do what you need to do to feel okay.
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When you love someone who has dementia you experience loss a little bit at a time, long before they die. Even though there was no obit in the paper and friends aren't dropping by with flowers and casseroles, you are in mourning. You have lost your mother's physical presence in your home, and that is very sad. Allow yourself to grieve.

Your mother still needs you. She needs to see you often. She needs your comfort. She needs to know she has not been abandoned. So even though you are grieving you need to continue caring for her. This is tough. This is one aspect of caring for someone with dementia that doesn't get enough attention and is seldom understood by people who have not been through it. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the strength to go one with your caregiving in spite of your grief.

A therapist who really gets this is Pauline Boss, and I found her book "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" to be extremely insightful and helpful.

Do come back and let us know how you are doing.
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Thank you Jeanne. I was wondering why all those feelings were propping up. Your explanation makes perfect sense. Just like prettymom46, two weeks before Christmas my father had a series of falls, was taken to the hospital and then to a nursing home because he could no longer walk, very little in the way of speech and a couple of kidneys working at half their capacity. My daily routine of 5 years had come to a screeching halt leaving me with an empty home, anxiety, sadness, and yes I will admit I too, I cried and at times still do. Being placed in a really nice home only 15 minutes away I visit him most every day. Even with the onset of late dementia he knows and still appreciates my efforts. "Watch your gas" he will say meaning he doesn't want me to waste money on gas visiting him. And on New Years Day I told him I wished I could take him home. Lying in bed with his eyes closed he just shook his head in the negative. He himself at least realizes I can no longer give him the level of care that he needs and has accepted the situation well. I asked him if he was satisfied with the nursing home he was placed in and his nod was positive. "Foods good." he says and that tells me a lot. I'm blessed to have a parent who, with all his might, strives to reach through the clouds of dementia to retain a sense of the rational. I find it amazing as we continue through life's journey at this late stage that he is still there to help lighten the load.
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Try this, it sounds simple but it's the start of a radical shift: When you feel something like sad, very deliberately don't say "I am so sad" but rather "Something in me feels so sad." Shift "I feel so confused" to "something in me feels so confused." Like that. Not to trivialize or distance that part, because it can be loud and big and important, but so that you can keep that part of you company, the way you would keep a friend company who was sad or confused or whatever. I'm talking about a life skill that can be learned. It's called Focusing. Check it out. It will help you.
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How to deal with the pain? You cry; you cry then cry again. As you are crying things will continue to take place at the nursing home that reinforce that the decision was not only the best one but also the only one you could have made. It was such a terrible time as I kept relating to how I would have felt in the same situation. She was so angry and bitter toward me. Listen to your gut not your heart. You will know.
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We haven't put my MIL in a nursing home yet, but I know one of these days we will have to. She is in such bad shape now. I cry so much because of it. I hate seeing the change the disease has brought over her. She no longer looks like or acts like she used to when she was healthy. I was looking over some family photos the other day, and I saw some of her with a big smile on her face. She looked so good, and now she looks like a shell of who she once was. It is enough to make anyone sad. I wish she never developed Alzheimer's disease. I hate the disease, and I wish to God that one day they find a cure so others don't have to go through it. God bless you, prettymom46. You are doing the best you can for the situation you and your mom were placed in. I'm sorry you are in such pain, and I wish I had the magic words to help you, but just remember you are not alone.
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Prettymom, my heart goes out to you! Your situation is a bit different from "Caregiverson" as your Mom is asking you to come home, whereas his father is at peace w/ the decision that's been made. I was wondering if you could look into Hospice now, coming to your home to help w/ the care of your Mom. The reason I suggest this, is that I know and understand the saddness you experience on a daily basis. I am caregiver to my Mom who lives in my home. I also tried to help my Mom's sister who lived nearby us independently. But I began doing less and less for my aunt, as I was getting too strung out. Her son would do obligatory daily visits, and stock her frig/freezer w/ food, but she was lonely, and often didn't even eat. I tried to have her move to a nice assisted living place, but she wouldn't budge from her home of 45 years. Thus, I took the stance that she'd just have to fend for herself, as I just couldn't take on another person. I still went over often w/ my Mom, and called her every day. Then she fell, broke her hip, had a stroke during surgery, and was gone from us in the blink of an eye. That happened right before Xmas. I have been grieving, and immersed in saddness daily. I miss her very much. I regret so much that I didn't do more for her. She asked for so little. I have tremendous guilt and sorrow about this. So, I'm telling you this because if you feel so sad about placing your Mom in the nursing home, and if she dies there, you may be filled with horrible guilt and saddness about it. You may wish she could've stayed at home w/ you. So if you look into the possiblility of help at home, and it turns out to be a possibility, that would be wonderful! If it doesn't work out, or cannot be done, then at least you'll have the comfort of knowing you tried your best to have her come home but it just couldn't happen. I just hope to spare you the terrible saddness mingled with terrible guilt that I'm experiencing right now. I'd do anything to have another chance. I know I would do things differently, and have added so much to my Aunt's life before she died. :( Blessings to you, from Braida
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