Dealing with Guilt Over a Care Transition or Decision

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 04 October 2012

Taking the car keys away: it’s the moment every family caregiver and senior driver dreads, along with making a decision about an assisted living move, or a discussion about end-of-life wishes.

In some rare cases, family members are in agreement about the decision, about what comes next. The older driver recognizes that he can no longer safely operate a vehicle and willingly surrenders the keys. The wife who is tired of living alone after her husband dies may look forward to moving to a senior living community so she won’t have to burden her children with her care needs. The 100-year-old man who is grateful for his long, full life may be more than ready to express his end-of-life wishes.

Still, even in these rare cases and in the other more common scenarios where families wrestle with their decisions, there is often a strong sense of guilt felt on the part of the adult children and caregivers. They want to do more. They think of the sacrifices their parents and older relatives made on their behalf and feel they should sacrifice too. Sometimes, if the relationship was a painful one and current communication is strained and tense as a result, there may be guilt over not caring what happens to their elder family member.

Guilt is a powerful emotion; it is not always easy to brush it aside, yet it is rarely productive. If you are dealing with guilt over a senior care decision or transition, acknowledge your feelings. Talk them out with a trusted friend, professional, or in the pages of a journal. Let go of the guilt so you can be the supportive caregiver your family member needs in this time of transition.



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