How do you deal with guilt?

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My mom has been in a group home for about three weeks now.


The story is kind of complicated. She's been going downhilll since she had a stroke 13 years ago, and has gotten more extreme (sleeping with a meat cleaver under her pillow, thinking neighbors are talking to her through heat vents, etc.) and more delusional and hostile (she thinks my husband steals dollar store figures from her, that he's trying to kill me, or he wants her dead for her money).


Over the years she's cut off contact with all family, including myself when she's mad at me about something. She's changed locks. She picks fights.
I've tried to help her countless times in ways big and small, either by driving her to the doctor, shopping for her, taxiing her around, etc.


Finally after many years of fighting I called adult protective services and they evaluated her, as did a doctor, a social worker, a couple nurses. The verdict was she is not fit to live alone. In large part it's due to confusion and health issues, primarily because she's diabetic and never monitors her blood sugar. She also stopped taking her blood pressure meds, saying she wanted to die, and her bp spiked. (She's fired every home nurse I've procured for her, which was my effort to try and keep her in her apartment, which she preferred.)


Finally I had enough and it went to court. I admitted I'm not sure I would be the best person to care for her considering the mental and physical problems. (The mental ones in particular.) The court assigned an outside guardian. And now she's adjusting to the home and we're in the process of packing some of her belongings for the home and storing a few of her items, and selling the rest for her care. (Well the guardian will sell them for her care ... I'm securing sentimental items and necessities for her.)


But now I'm contending with guilt. I feel bad that my mom is taken from her apartment and forced to a home -- though repeated efforts were made to keep her living on her own -- but I also know she really can't live on her own. I also know she feels abandoned somewhat and I feel like I've abandoned or betrayed her. But we've debated having her live with us, and with her issues with my husband (and in turn, with me) we're not sure it'd work. Right now I work at home, but I'm looking for another job, so having her around would distract my work because she has to always get attention and she never is willing to go anywhere.


If I work outside the home we couldn't leave her alone in our house for long spells. She smokes and she'd leave the doors open, let the pets out, maybe let in solicitors. We'd hate to come home and find the house burnt down (she burnt her mattress and bedding a few times) or find the cats missing, or something else.


I'll be seeing her tomorrow and I know she's going to ask to go home. I don't know what to say. I don't want her to feel abandoned, but I don't think I'm the best person to care for her. Not at the level of care she needs.


How do people handle that guilt, or cope with the transition? Or help their parents transition?

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Thanks, Christine73. Is your mom's personality close to mine's? That has to be tough!

You know, I had given the neighbor my mom's contact info at the home -- they're trying to get my mom a cell and she refuses it because she's mad at everyone, but the neighbor has the number of the woman who runs the home, so she could arrange to visit. I was gung-ho for that because I thought my mom would like company and seeing familiar faces, and she likes attention...

And what did the neighbor do the first time she called? She yelled at the woman saying she had no right to keep my mom in her group home. It seems she thought because my mom cooked for herself a couple times a week that she should remain independent. Never mind all the burns from cigarettes on her bedding and house dress or all the bruises from the falling or that she thought everyone was stealing from her.

The woman who runs the home calmly told the woman she wasn't going to hear her judgments or drama and it wasn't her place to go against a court decision, and told her to call when she was calmer, and the neighbor never called back.

Maybe she's too drunk to see my mom needs to be watched over. It just annoyed me, though. Instead of her coming to my mom's apartment for a couple years and drinking and encouraging a diabetic with dementia to drink schnapps she could have taken my mom shopping for groceries or to the doctor. Sure my mom needs friends, but she also needs people who aren't pouring cheap booze down her throat.
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Just read your recent post about the neighbor. Here's my advice there. Have your husband call her and tell her to never call you ever again. Have him give her your mother's contact info. He can also say that she is menacing and if he finds out, you guys will call the police. I'm so sorry...
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Heidi73, first of all, are you my long, lost twin? the way you describe your mom's personality is so much like my mom's. Second, you deal with the guilt by acknowledging and accepting the fact that you have taken excellent care of your mother, because you have.
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Ugh, I need to vent a bit. My mom is in a group home and seems to do okay there, except she just wants to sit around (in the home's walled porch) and smoke to no end.

My mom wants nothing to do with me, in particular because she thinks I chose my husband over her. I've mainly been communicating with the woman who runs the home for updates, etc.

The other day, though, my mom's former neighbor called me, obviously very drunk, and just laid into me (in a voicemail -- I was at my mother-in-law's at the time) about how I kept hiding behind excuses of being sick (I had the flu in the fall, and stayed away while I was contagious, but using it as a crutch, no). She also told me that I shouldn't just call her when I'm drunk (I haven't had more than a second glass of wine or beer in years, and I don't call her because I don't like her, except to communicate a couple basic details about my mom), and in between she called me an f-ing a-hole, the b-word and all kinds of other names.

I was so horrified by the call. For some reason it rattled me. Maybe part is guilt that my mom is in a home, but it's also the hostility and name calling. I just sobbed for an hour after hearing the message. I almost wanted to call her back and say I'm doing what I can, and yeah, I could probably visit more, but she has no idea about the complicated history here. And in this situation she's getting her medications on time and eating regular meals, socializing a bit, etc. It wasn't an easy choice!

Instead I'm just going to ignore me and if she calls again and I pick it up I'm just going to ask her not to call me anymore, especially if she's drunk. I'll give her contact info to my mom and want nothing more to do with her.
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My mom's neighbor (or former, now) neighbor kind of set me off, too. She said to me, "your mother cooks for herself," like that justified her living alone. Two other neighbors I chatted with mentioned the smoking and fear of her forgetting to shut off her stove, etc. Also the hallucinations and paranoia.
Now my main goal is to get through the holidays intact. My mom mentioned to the doctor wanting to visit me and his wife passed that on to me. When I saw my mom she didn't mention it at all, and I wasn't sure if I should, either. We're tentatively going to bring her over for Xmas Eve, maybe to stay overnight, maybe not. I told the caregiver I'm playing it by ear. I have permission to bring her over for a visit, but now I'm worried my mom will demand to go to her place and go through her stuff, etc.
And my husband and I have been going through her things while she's at the home. We've plucked a few containers of clothing and other essentials. We also found odd things. Stubbed out cigarettes, saved for later, I guess. A jar of pickles (opened) in the cabinet. Old food in the fridge. Weird things saved. There was the foam packing from a radio she bought which she wanted me to take and use to insulate my basement. I found makeup that was decades old, which I finally tossed. All these little signs that it's time to let someone else care for her (other than herself).
I've packed a lot of personal items which I'm storing, too. I have them in my house, so if she does visit she can go through them there. I know she thinks I'm taking them for my own gain, but honestly it's just a case of "I remember that vase from when I was a child," and am holding on to it.
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Heidi, she belongs right where she is. You helped get her there. You did her a huge favor, despite her resistance and your emotions, because you knew things were going nowhere good the way they were; you had the guts to do the right thing, even if she is never grateful to you for a single nanosecond of the rest of her life, you did the right thing.

It hurts like hell to be the one who says yes, its time to take my mother's world apart - esepcially if its also you childhood home - but she was not going to accept that she would need help and direction to live in her own home, let alone accept appropriate boundaries and supervision from you. It was time and past time, and if you hadn't done it, you would just be waiting for the inevitable fall, accident, or disaster to end things for her instead.
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not abutters - abouters
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Heidi You should never ever feel guilty for caring. Caregiving is something else. We all SHOULD care about not all of CAN caregive. It isn't about how wonderful caregivers are as opposed to the care abutters because then the caregivers would scream we care about too. It's not about that at all.

It's about you knowing your limits, knowing the boundaries that will enable you and your Mum to have the best life for BOTH of you. So feel no guilt. This way you can devote ALL your designated time in being with Mum instead of being torn between running from A to B and back again and squeezing Mum time in when you can breathe...in fact I quite envy you.
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Also Midkid people who say things like you don't have any say in it haven't walked
a day in your shoes so they should worry about themselves and mind their own business.You keep doing what your gut tells you is right.
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Great news Heidi,
It sounds like your mom is doing well there. I hope that helps you feel better. Sometimes the care we get out loved ones come from various sources. You did the right thing. I hope you find peace with that.
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