This is an email sent from a reader we will call K.R. to preserve her identity:
My mother and I were very close; we were best friends and had many wonderful times together. She was stricken with serious diseases but always, always tried to remain cheerful, helpful and positive. She was not a complainer. Our lives were moving along with many wonderful times despite heartbreaks along the way. But then my father died, and we had to move her into an assisted care place. But, I keep feeling she would have been better in her house with all her belongings and full-time care. At the time, we didn’t know if full-time care would have been affordable. I was in so much grief that I froze and let the process happen without taking a stand and saying no, No, NO! I couldn’t. I was crippled with the loss.
So, my questions are, how do you make sure assisted living is the best possible option for a loved one, and how can you overcome feeling regret over some decisions, even though you did the best you could at the time?
Thank you for asking such pertinent questions that will be helpful to many of us who have reached an age where we will face such an excruciating dilemma. My mantra in life is that there are no guarantees, and one can never be sure about anything in life except we will all leave this earth someday. So maybe the question asked should rather be,
There will be many factors to consider, such as:
Of course, one of the most important questions will be that of the financial burden this may place on your parent or you as a responsible family member. Once you gather all the information and make that assessment from a position of knowledge (I always find a pros and cons sheet very helpful), don’t doubt yourself, rather act upon it with confidence.
Do due diligence on researching the homes you are considering, and spend much time on the wonderful resource that Google offers of checking out reviews, and following a list of comprehensive red flags that you should look for when you are deciding to take this path.
As someone who has worked in the assisted living environment, facilities that are run by caring, experienced staff, who are well trained in their work, offer a wonderful alternative to home living when it is no longer an option.
Coming back to your own personal story, it seems to me that the decision to move your mother to assisted living was in her best interest at that moment in time. If you were to look at this through your mother’s eyes, I believe you would find her concern would probably be for your well-being as much as, if not more than, her own as you were also grieving the loss of your father. That was certainly the case with my own selfless mum.
In addressing your second question,
It is human nature to regret some of the decisions we make in life; however, try to recognize that every decision you made about your mother’s care at that time was made with compassion and kindness. Living with regret eats us up, and I am quite sure that is the last thing your mother would ever have wanted for you.
There are recognized practices that psychologists will encourage if you are unable to move past this feeling of regret. Personally, I recommend journaling every day as a cathartic practice to better understand your own thoughts, seek self-compassion and forgiveness.
Do please give yourself grace and be thankful that you had the privilege of such a wonderful relationship with your mother while she was here: sadly, not all mother/daughter relationships are happy ones.
I hope I have been able to provide a valuable perspective on what was clearly a challenging time in your life.
Should you have a question for our Silver Agony Aunt, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comments below.
Have you made any decisions about your parents that you now regret? What were they and what caused the regret? What would you do differently if you could? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?