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I am feeling guilty about Mom's unhappiness with dementia. She wants to move in with me. I know I have made the right decision, both for me and for my husband and kids. I know my Mom is in the safest place for someone with moderate dementia. She's in great shape physically, but pretty much has zero short-term memory. I became her sole caretaker at the end of April 2016, and those of you active in this group may have followed along so far in our journey. We originally had Mom move into the house with us, and she was at my home for six weeks, but I knew within two weeks that I could not handle full-time caregiving while still having teen kids at home and a husband who shouldn't take a back seat to the situation. So despite reassuring myself again and again that I've made a good decision, I can't help but feel tremendous guilt when Mom expresses how unhappy she is. She seems to go in spurts, for several weeks she won't mention anything, and then for about two weeks it's all she talks about. (we happen to be a week into obsession over living with me.) The first problem is that she can't remember that we've talked about it, so we continue to have the same discussion. I'm pretty patient with repeating myself, and I try to come up with diplomatic ways to tell her that she kept wandering, and she was just as unhappy here. I try to re-direct her attention, but I have NEVER BEEN GOOD at thinking on my feet. I try to rehearse dialogue and have phrases at the ready, but more and more, those things don't work. You guys have any words of encouragement, or tips on re-directing, or just advice on how to not feel guilty. Now that I am "in charge" I constantly feel like I have to fix things for Mom, but some things I just can't fix for her. The last time we had a conversation about her living with us, she begged to "try it again" after I explained why it was safer where she was. I need to know how to tell her "No" but in a way that expresses caring and love. You guys have any tips????

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Just reread the above. I'm new to this. Sorry how curt that came off. It sounds like you are making the right decisions for everyone involved and being considerate and conscientious about your mother's feelings. Good for you. Feel good about that. But, even in the best case scenario, it's a hard, tragic time of life. Of course you feel bad, sad about it and wish it could be...not what it is. I hope today was better for you.
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Btw - I think it's more effective to take the best reason why your mom is where she needs to be and use it every time - don't keep trying to reinvent the wheel. As Sunny pointed out, your mom is asking the same question - use the same, best reason. Maybe, just maybe - hearing the same answer every time might be more likely to get into her mind better than using a variety of reasons.
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JJGood - Churchmouse and I are totally on the same page with this. As I've said frequently here - learn to identify and embrace the difference between feeling guilty and feeling bad. Guilt is for when you've done something wrong - feeling bad is for wishing things could be different but you know that it can't - that it is what it is and no amount of effort, wanting or good intentions is going to change the situation. What have you done wrong? Nothing. You made a tough decision that is the best thing for everyone involved - you, your hubby and children and yes, for your mother. Sometimes it sucks - being the decision maker - no doubt about it. But personally, I've never felt guilty for the decisions I made regarding my mother and her care - every single one was made with the knowledge that it was what's best for her and coincidentally- what's best for my own family and yes, me. Does this make me a cold fish? I don't think so - as I felt badly that things couldn't have been different. Some days I felt really badly! As for what to say to your mom - I had one answer that I used - guilt free every time, and that's because it was the honest truth - "Mom, your medical needs are such that I couldn't take care of you properly at home. Here there is medically trained staff that can make sure you're getting the care you need. At least for now - this is where you need to be". JJGood - best of luck to you!
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In loving relationships, I think irrational guilt can be a way to try to blame yourself so then you'll be able to feel that you can have control over something that you can't control, like the inevitably of death and aging, of having to be parted with your loved one forever someday.

In a relationship that was never loving, it can be a way to try, futilely, to cobble together a caring bond that never existed.
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I agree Churchmouse. I do think sometimes frustration, sadness and even anger is mistaken for guilt. I was lucky, because growing up, I was taught that you felt guilt when you knew you did something wrong. There would be this little voice in your head that would remind you. So, I never hear that little voice, when I do the right things. I feel proud and relieved when I do the right thing. So, I suppose it might have something to do with the way we are raised.

I've also read that guilt may arise from caregivers who are overwhelmed. Not a logical thing, but, as some kind of an emotional misfire of sorts. If it happened to me, I think that I might try to get a handle on it, since feeling guilty when it's not earned seems unnecessarily brutal to your psyche for no reason, imo.
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Sunny, you are so right - it is hard to understand why we go on feeling guilty even when we are certain that we have made the best decisions possible. My personal view is that we're mistaking guilt for sadness.

On a couple of precious, sanity-saving occasions I left my mother for a week at a time in respite care. The facility could not have been better. The people were brilliant, not just professional but truly committed to their caring vocation. The place was nice. Her room was nice. She had everything she needed. I could take the week off and have nothing, nothing at all, to be worried about.

But driving away I still felt tearful. I didn't want my mother to need to be in this place that was not home. I didn't like to think of her being among strangers, as she saw it, no matter how much confidence I had in them. I wished it wasn't necessary. So whether you call it guilt or grief or whatever, it still makes you feel terrible.

Dare I say it? - life is unfair.
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Of course, you know you did the right thing. So, I'm trying to figure out why you feel guilty. I think that it's quite common, I just have to wrap my brain around it.

I might start by remembering how you would answer questions to your children when they get older and are hurt that so much of your daily hours were spent with your mother and not to them. Would you then feel guilty that the kids didn't get what they deserved? I'd think about it, because I know how stressful it can be to be with a person who is constantly repeating, constantly asking the same questions over and over. I would give it much consideration to put that much stress on my kids. Would your mom want that, if she were thinking clearly?

Also, think about how much more refreshed and rested you are when you visit now. If you are doing the work of 3 people, you lose steam, get frustrated easier and generally may decline in health from being so stressed out and exhausted. You being sick wouldn't help mom at all.

If you fear that you can't answer her questions, come up with a standard answer that fits any question. She won't likely recall if you use it over and over. (Remember that she's repeatedly asking you about home, not due to be insistent, but because she forgets what has already been said. ) Regardless of the question, you can say, "Well, let me think about that. I'll have to give it some thought. Can we revisit it tomorrow?" Or, "I'll have to discuss it with the doctor or the office, the insurance agent or the tax guy. There are so many rules. I'll have to figure out the best route to take on that one." Or," I'm waiting on the paperwork. It's in the mail."

Also, keep in mind that your mom could also beg to go home, even if she is living in your home. People beg to go home who ARE ALREADY in their home, so taking her home is no guarantee for success. Stay calm and confident. I hope you can find peace with it.
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Stop feeling guilty. You love your Mom and have done the best you can for her. I know she thinks she will be happier if she just comes home with you but you know in your heart that this won't be the case. Stick to your guns rather than having another disaster and having to move her out a second time. Just tell her it can't be done and end the conversation. Can you spend time with her doing some of the activities in her facility. "I see the choir is coming on Sunday afternoon Mom I 'd love to come and hear them with you". Take her out for meals shopping etc but do not take her to your home. Have an excuse ready. Mom the kids are practicing in the band and you know how much noise that make. I just can't stand it. Why don't we go to the garden center and find you a nice plant" You can think of lots of things to do, maybe go and choose some nice pillows for your room. Just give her a hug and tell her you are not going to discuss it. It is hard but we all have hard life choices to make especially as we age.
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"I love you very much, darling mother, and so do the kids and the family. That's why we need you to be looked after properly here, where the nice people know the best way to keep you safe and well."

"Try it again? I'm not taking any chances. You're too important for that."

That kind of thing.

More importantly: once you're on your way home, heart in your boots, remember that you're right - you CANNOT fix this for your mother. You cannot make everything ok in her irrational, non-retentive head. And you are doing the right thing. And, most of all, yes you do love your mother. Huge hugs to you.
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