Ahhhh guilt. We all share some level of guilt as we deal with our loved ones’ who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s natural and to be expected.
So where does this guilt come from?
We can look at many sources and of course each individual caregiver’s situation is different.
**I have a family of young children and a full time job…I don’t have time to deal with this.
**Mom and I haven’t spoken in years.
**Dad abused me as a child and now I can’t bring myself to care about what happens to him.
**We’ve used up all of my parents money and I can’t go into more debt to care for them.
**My sister thinks she knows what is best for Mom but she is so far off base.
**They are fine!
**I live on the west coast and my parents are in NYS.
**There are five siblings in our family and we can’t all agree on what is best for Dad.
**__________________________________________________________. (Fill in the blank)
The list could go on and on. You can add your personal scenario to the above list.
So what do we do about guilt?
I believe that we need to put things into perspective. Each individual must prioritize what is most important to their family situation: what is best for Mom or Dad, what are the family finances, how safe is the individual in his/her own home, did Dad wander away and get lost for 2 hours, is Mom taking her medications, does Mom’s other medical problems prevent her for caring for Dad, etc.
Over the years as our family has had to make serious decisions we started doing a comparisons. Once we had identified our potential options, we did a pro and con list for each situation. We crossed out everything that overlapped on each list. Then we could realistically look at what our actual options were in order to make a decision.
This family activity can help your family decide what is best for your loved one. Once you are clear about the pros and cons of each option, you will know what your decision must be and you will be able to draw on that when your feelings of guilt surface. You will be able to say, without hesitation, “This was the best decision our family could have made for Mom or Dad” and know that you are right.
The guilt you are feeling may never be totally gone, but if you have gone through the process of clearly thinking through what the options are for your Mom or Dad, the guilt will begin to dissipate.