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The Silver Agony Aunt Responds: Assisted Living and Regrets

By Wendy Ann Hulbert November 22, 2023 Caregiving

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?

The Agony Aunt’s Response:

Dear K.R.,

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,

At What Point Is It in the Best Interests of My Parent to Place Them in Assisted Living?

There will be many factors to consider, such as:

  • Are they still physically and/or mentally competent?
  • Could they be a danger to themselves without assisted living (i.e., unable to administer their own medication or vulnerable to household hazards like gas)?
  • Are they socially isolated where they live and you are not within a reasonable living distance to visit them regularly?
  • Would they be better served by company from other residents and attentive staff members?
  • Are they mobile?
  • Can they prepare their own meals?

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,

How Can You Overcome Feeling Regret Over Some Decisions Even Though You Did the Best You Could at the Time?

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 or use the comments below.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

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?

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Renee Lovitz

I tell myself that I did the best I could at the time. We all have regrets, but if you did your best that’s all you can do.


Hello Renee, I absolutely agree


I would very much recommend that EVERY person completes an Advanced Care Plan so that their children/doctors etc know what it is that they want when that person is ever unable to care for themself. This means their wishes are set in stone, & should avoid any offspring/relatives’ personal biases & possible conflict.


I always promised my mother she would never live in Assisted Living but that promise got broken from another family members. I just went to see her for probably the last time as she’s getting frailer every day….when she was in a facility she took no part in activities that were paid for and a sister made the decision to move her to a private home. It must be quiet lonely sharing a room with a complete stranger, most of her things were sold down to the bed she sleeps in. Foods are unfamiliar and days are long. This isn’t what I wanted for her but she also let a sister make several decisions for her with regret now. I don’t have a relationship with this sister and can only wish her well. I’m releasing my mom in peace and happiness as that’s how I want to leave this earth. There’s wonderful facilities in this world but the person must want this or it leads to regrets, sadness and division’s in many forms. 🤷‍♀️☮️🙏

Cher Smith

WOW!!! The most passive aggressive/pass the buck/Woe is me/not my fault not my problem comment I’ve ever read!!!
Still on this earth and you’re saying you probably have seen her for the last time…. I would say get an attorney, spend as much time with your mother as possible, fight for what you believe is right, but it would seem all of your energy is spent feeling sorry for yourself! No way do you have time to make the situation better…. Your attitude and deflection is no doubt the reason why someone else has been making the decisions and it’s your mother that’s paying the price

The Author

Wendy is a world traveler, having worked for many years on cruise ships, and lived in multiple countries during her adult life. In recent years Wendy pursues her passion for writing and sharing her gypsy soul experiences in various forms. Follow her on Instagram: wendygypsysoulcelebrant and read her Substack column at

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