Letting Go of Guilt: How to Manage Difficult Feelings after Moving a Loved One to Assisted Living
Moving a loved one into a popular assisted living community or a nursing home can help ensure they are well cared for when you are not around. But it’s difficult to make the decision if they do not wish to leave their home, and afterwards, you may find yourself struggling with feelings of guilt.
It helps to address your feelings of guilt so that they don’t intensify and cause tension in the relationship. Here are some ways you can help manage those feelings and maintain a positive and loving relationship with your parents.
Exchange negative self-talk for positive self-talk
Studies show that talking to yourself in the third person can help you control negative emotions. Instead of using the word “I,” you can refer to yourself as your name. The use of the third person allows you to step outside yourself and remain more neutral. The key is that you engage in positive self-talk, not negative. The more positive your language, the more you build yourself up, making it easier to manage your guilty feelings.
For example, if your name is Robert, you may say to yourself: “Robert, you did what was best for your parents’ safety. And now, they will be in a warm, caring environment that can address all their needs. Always remember, you’re a loving son.”
Keep an open line of communication
An open line of communication between you and your parents can prevent misunderstandings and allow both sides to feel comfortable being honest with one another. When you express your feelings, you’re less likely to develop guilt. And when everything is out in the open, you and your parents can address potential conflict before it escalates.
Help your parents personalize their new home
It is understandable to be attached to a home you lived in for many years; the shared memories and possessions all have a story. Leaving all that behind to embark on a new journey is challenging for anyone, especially your parents. So support them by offering to help personalize their new home. Hanging family photos on the walls and decorating their apartment to match their style can help your parents feel at home in their apartment more quickly.
Check in and visit with your parents regularly
If you are worried that your parents feel abandoned, check in with them regularly to show them that you are still available to offer support. Show them that you care for them by planning special things to do while you visit. It can be anything from a movie night, enjoying take out. or even playing a game together. Let them be your main focus during these times. You both will enjoy it.
On the days you don’t visit, make sure you check in with them by regularly giving them a quick call—letting them know that you still value your time with them, even if it is only via a call. Doing so can show your parents that although you’ve moved them to assisted living, your love for them hasn’t changed—and that your intentions have always been pure.
Get to know the community’s staff members
By visiting the community and getting to know the staff, you can get a better feel for what your parents’ experience daily. If you would like to see how your parents spend each part of the day, you can schedule various times to visit. That way, you’ll have confirmation that your parents are always comfortable.
As you manage your feelings of guilt, you may feel less burden on your conscience, giving you the freedom to exude positive energy. Your positive energy may influence your parents and improve your relationship with them. Soon, they may realize that moving into assisted living isn’t the end of their story, but rather a new chapter in their life.