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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