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Published January 07, 2012, 11:30 PM

Bursack: Doctor may help when it’s time for a care facility

Dear Carol: I want Mom to go to a nursing home because I’m burned out. She insists on my undivided attention every minute that I’m home. I work full time, have a handicapped husband at home as well, and don’t have a minute for myself. I have a wonderful marriage that I have sadly neglected since Mom moved in a year ago. However, I’m paralyzed with guilt when I consider making the decision to move Mom to a facility.

By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM

Dear Carol: I want Mom to go to a nursing home because I’m burned out.

She insists on my undivided attention every minute that I’m home. I work full time, have a handicapped husband at home as well, and don’t have a minute for myself. I have a wonderful marriage that I have sadly neglected since Mom moved in a year ago. However, I’m paralyzed with guilt when I consider making the decision to move Mom to a facility.

I also suffer from depression and anxiety. And listening to Mom complain all the time doesn’t help.

There’s no other family to help; I have a brother who hasn’t called for six months and doesn’t answer his phone or email.

I find myself hoping Mom gets just sick enough to go into the hospital, and then the staff can help get her into a nursing home. Those thoughts, of course, make me feel like an awful person.

I realize that I simply don’t want to take all of the responsibility for making the decision to put her in care, and am looking for a scapegoat. At the suggestion of a friend, I made an appointment with a counselor, but that is weeks away. I need to do something now. – Margaret

Dear Margaret: I’m glad you are going to see a counselor to help you through this. There is no need for guilt. You have done more than most people could manage. Your health is already compromised and without changes you eventually may not even be able to care for your husband – or even yourself.

For your mother’s sake, as well as your own, you do need to get help now.

Your mom needs more care than you can give her, so it’s only fair to get outside help. Please talk with your mom’s doctor and tell him or her how desperate you feel. You should get some good support and practical help in getting your mom admitted to a care facility. She may be able to start with assisted living rather than a nursing home, depending on her health.

I also think you should see your own doctor for a complete checkup, if you haven’t done that recently. Your depression may be holding you back, and a change or adjustment in your medication could help you through this tough period.

The guilt you are feeling is unearned. Please continue to seek professional help and find a facility that can take your mom. When she has made the move, you can visit her as a refreshed, caring daughter instead of a burned out caregiver. You can also once again enjoy life with your husband and keep your marriage strong.


Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.

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