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October 3, 2016   |    Blog, Caregiver Support, Long-Term Care, Memory Support

But You Promised: 10 Tips for Coping When a Loved One Moves into Nursing Care By Dr. Lisa May Ph.D.

But You Promised Event

Last Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 Dr. Lisa May Ph.D. presented an interactive discussion about dealing with the emotion and challenges of placing a loved one in a care setting to help families cope with their guilt and related difficulties.

Often when a loved one moves into a facility, the caregiver experiences many different feelings, including a sense of loss and guilt. We may not have made the promise of not moving into nursing care out loud, but we often hold that idea in our minds. For the caregiver spouse, it can bring about difficulties with separation, and the loss of a fantasy about how our lives were supposed to go. For adult caregiver children, guilt often stems from feeling that we have an obligation to care for our parents, and a sense of failure that we could not assist to the level they need.

It is important to reflect on the reasons a higher level of care is needed. A move to a nursing facility often occurs because of safety issues, or difficulties taking care of personal needs. While only a generation or two ago multigenerational families were the norm, currently adults are working longer and may have adult children in the home. Elders are also living longer, and may require care for longer periods of time. Many times we are simply not able to provide 24 hour supervision or assistance with personal care tasks or medical care.

Focusing on self-care for the caregiver, as well as remaining an active member of the caregiving team can help to balance the needs of both our loved ones and ourselves.

10 Tips for Coping with the Negative Feelings that May Arise When a Loved One Moves into Nursing Care

  1. Think about why you came to the decision to use the facility as a resource. Typically if it was for them, you can feel confident it was for the right reasons.
  2. Understand that you have a right to a life outside of caregiving.
  3. You will have many decisions to make, and there are consequences to each decision. Allow yourself to make the decision and not be frozen by fear regarding making a wrong decision.
  4. Remember you remain an important part of the care team. Your visits, and assistance with medical care, treats, attention, continues to be very valuable.
  5. Talk with your loved one. Tell them why you brought them here, even if it seems they are not listening.
  6. Try to remember your loved ones anger is the feeling that shows, but is not the whole story. They may be grieving, recognizing the loss of independence, may be nervous about change – but it will likely come out as anger.
  7. Get to know the staff and routines of facility. It will help you feel comfortable.
  8. The move to a facility may allow you to go back to other roles with your loved one. All of your time is no longer wrapped up in caregiving duties.
  9. When you visit, it is ok to read a book or the paper, sit and watch a movie, put together a puzzle. Your presence is desired, but you may run out of things to talk about, and that is ok.
  10. Find a healthy way to deal with your feelings. Talk to someone, practice deep breathing, and cry. You will be grieving too.

About Dr. Lisa May Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa May received her Bachelor’s degree from Clarion University, her Master’s degree from Slippery Rock University and her Doctoral degree from Gannon University. Her predoctoral internship was completed at the Erie Psychological Consortium with a specialty focus in neuropsychology. She also completed a post-doctoral residency with training focused in neuropsychology and health psychology.

She is a partner at Northshore Neurosciences in Erie, an innovative multidisplinary group of psychologists and neurologists. She is on staff at 3 acute care hospitals and one rehabilitation hospital where she provides neuropsychological consultation. She also consults at 6 extended care/assisted living facilities. She is a clinical supervisor for the Erie Psychological Consortium, a predoctoral internship that is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

She provides a monthly lecture series to neurology residents, medical students and psychology predoctoral interns on various neuropsychology topics. She also provides frequent community presentations on various topics related to dementia, behavior management and other psychological issues.

Biography courtsey of: Northshore Neurosciences

If you would like to contact Dr. Lisa May Ph.D. with questions or to make an appointment please call (814) 877-8013.