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Home > Blogs > Insights > Denise's Blog > Why Did You Put Me Here?

Why Did You Put Me Here?

bullseye1Amy cared her mom, Edith, at home until, well, her life fell apart. First, Amy lost her job. Then, she lost her home to foreclosure.

She knew she could live temporarily with a friend. Obviously, her mom, with her care needs, couldn’t move in with Amy’s friend. So, Amy and Edith looked at skilled nursing facilities together and selected one they both felt could meet Edith’s needs.

To say it’s been a difficult transition would be an understatement. The greatest challenge has been the hit to their relationship because of the decision to move Edith to a facility.

Amy visits her mom daily and during each visit Edith demands, “Why did you put me here?” Amy re-runs the events of the past few years, which makes her feel awful and never seems to satisfy her mom.

It’s a terrible situation for both of them.

When you make the best decision for your caree but it’s not the decision she wants, you’ll be plagued by guilt. And then peppered by your caree’s questions. You can’t get a break from the beating you give yourself and the drilling you get from your caree.

You may be tempted to avoid visiting your caree. Hiding only provides a temporary reprieve. These suggestions can help you manage the situation:

  1. You and your caree may believe that you hold your caree’s fate: You hold the keys to whether or not your caree remains at home or moves to a facility. The truth is that life holds the keys. My colleague, Anna Stookey, who joins me monthly on Your Caregiving Journey, boils it down to this: A caree looks to us and asks, Why? Really, the anger is with life for giving us old age and death. In essence, you are the target of your caree’s anger but know you are not the true cause.
  2. Of course, being a target is not easy. So, create your mantra, so to speak, that you use to answer your caree’s question, Why did you put me here? Your answer could be, “When I lost my job, I just couldn’t keep up with the bills. I lost the house to foreclosure. I wanted you to be as safe as possible so we found this facility together.” Remember to share the impact of life’s events on you, too.
  3. Visit regularly and stay involved your caree’s care. However, you can put a limit on how long the visits last. If the guilt trip goes on for too long, then simply end the visit with a hug and kiss and a “I’m going to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
  4. Ask the facility social worker for help managing the situation. The social worker can meet with your caree to talk through the emotions. If necessary, the social worker can make a referral to a therapist.
  5. Get support. If the facility has a support group, join it. Join online support groups, find your own therapist or coach, vent in your journal. Staying alone in your thoughts can make the day that much harder. Talking out the situation can help you find strength and perspective.
  6. Give the process time and more time than you think. At some point, your caree will realize the anger isn’t about you but about a disease process, a never-ending decline and mortality. When your caree feels this level of sadness, she will want your support.

The transitions during the end of life can be tough to navigate. Enter external circumstances beyond your control and you can feel like you’re trying to walk on a tight rope. Lean on your support, understand the difficulties of decline and stay on purpose—to be present with your caree.

How do you talk about difficult decisions with your caree? Please share your experiences in our comments section, below.

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About Denise Brown

Avatar of Denise
I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues.

3 comments

  1. Avatar of Bob

    I related to the story Denise with respect to my care-giving experience with my spouse whom I was no longer able to care for at home because of her worsening condition and my becoming ill. I wound up having to go on Social Security Disability, house in foreclosure; etc. My conversations with my spouse about critical concerns for both of us have often been fraught with much conflict. As we speak, she will probably be asked to leave the second facility she has been in because of her desire to have absolute control over every aspect of her care, wanting what she wants when she wants it creating alienation between herself and her care-givers. I have been an advocate for her in her legitimate concerns and tried to mediate concerns that were a conflict between her and the staff at the facility. I would then be accused of being on “their side”. She would then call her girlfriend who is in private practice as a elder life care case-manager/Social worker who allies with her in trashing the place and the care which does not meet her mostly unreasonable expectations. I decided I had to step back because I became very severely depressed. My health went down hill. My family and spouse’s cousin were worried about me. It got to the point that I was either going to wind up in the hospital with major health problems or in having a psychiatric break-down. I had to make a radical turn before I wound up destroyed. I decided to let my wife and her girlfriend decide how they wanted to handle my wife’s complaints. They wanted to involve me in documenting her complaints with the Department of Health; etc. I did not feel in good conscience that I could do that. I did meet with my wife, her girlfriend and a nursing supervisor to outline my wife’s concerns. But that was as far as I would go. Naturally, I am probably now the bad guy and horrible husband. Many of my spouses complaints have some legitimacy. However, my experience with both facilities that she has been in, as well as previous sub-acute rehabs is that she has brought quite a lot on herself. I have always advocated for her legitimate complaints. I feel extremely horrible about what has happened. The guilt can be over-powering. However, I had to learn to trust my own experience that if I did not face this issue head-on, I was going to be a goner. There are so many other aspects/issues I could write about with respect to what I have written. I’ll save that for a blog or journal entry.

  2. Avatar of Bob

    BTW: The depression I have been experiencing has kept me from having the energy to come to site and post. I’m starting to get some energy back.

    • Hang in there. It sounds like you are setting reasonable boundaries, which you must do for your own health! You will be no help to your wife if you get ill.

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