This is a very tricky one because there are no hard and fast rules as to when you need to call in extra support. Rather, there are a broad number of factors that come into play here, so we’ll cover those in depth.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s case will be different. But over my years of experience as a professional caregiver and from my time managing a nursing home, I’ve found out that these are the most important factors to consider when making this decision.
The point is to take a realistic inventory and see if everyone involved would be better off by involving professional care.
The Background Of Your Relationship
By this I mean, what sort of relationship have you had with your parent or loved one? Do you have a deep love for them? Or are you taking care of them out of misplaced sense of duty because of one of the following:
- You feel it is expected of you
- There is no one else to do it
- You were begged to commit to never putting them in care
- Their fear about leaving home plays over in your mind
- They will take up all your inheritance
Or are you taking care of them because…?
- They’ve always been there to support you and it’s time to give back to them
- You would not even consider leaving this role to someone else
- You have had a serious discussion with them and have committed to doing it for now
- You would do this even if it took every cent out of your inheritance
Your Reasons For Taking Over The Caring Role
If you are being the caregiver because of any of the reasons from the first group, (i.e. done out of duty) then resentment and bitterness will probably take its toll on you. You will also not be able to do the job of caring as well as a professional.
In fact, you’re more at risk of deteriorating your relationship with your parent or spouse. Doing a job you don’t want to do for a long period of time is just not the recipe for doing it properly. Worst of all, you may begin to feel trapped in this role.
However, if you truly believe you are the best person to take on the role and you love them unconditionally, your relationship will remain intact or even strengthen.
If you genuinely enjoy the role, there could be an immense sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in caring for them. If you willingly give up some of your life for them, you will find the precious time you spend together enhances your life immeasurably.
How Do You Feel
Probably the biggest trick in knowing whether it’s time to have your loved one in assisted living is realizing when it’s too much for you to continue doing the caring.
I say it’s the biggest trick because no one can answer that for you – it’s your judgement call.
It means having an innate awareness of yourself and your capabilities. Also, looking inside and being able to acknowledge to yourself that you cannot continue in the role of caring.
If you’ve been reading Care Training Online for a while, you probably know that when it comes to the question of professional care or doing it yourself, I always recommend planning ahead.
This means having a discussion about how each person feels about professional caring way ahead of time. Even before it’s a possibility.
That conversation, should be something along the lines of:
“I will continue to care for you for as long as I feel capable and comfortable with the role. If I feel that I cannot cope or our relationship is being destroyed, will you accept my judgement and forgive me for having to place you in care?”
If you have had a conversation like this, you should now bring it back and not feel guilty if you have to let go if you can no longer do the job; considering that both of you agreed to that.
If you haven’t, perhaps it’s not so late. That discussion should also help you assess whether your loved one is ready to go into external care or not.
Your Own Promises
On the other hand, if you have boxed yourself into a corner by saying things like:
- “I will never let anyone else take care of you”
- “I will never place you in a home”
- “I promise to keep you in your own home for the rest of your life”
Quite frankly, those are the best ways to build resentment and eventually feel frustrated about giving up your life to try and please another person.
As poetic as they may sound, they are usually just blanket commitments that are very likely to fail.
Why? You just never know what the journey will be like nor do you know if your health is going to allow you to continue caring.
Being in a situation where you feel there is no way out only compounds your problems and increases stress for both you and your loved one.
If you have said things like that and are now in this situation, just try to make clear that you didn’t know how hard it was going to be when you said it.
Then, have an open discussion about how far are you willing to go before turning to professional care.
Wealth And Property
Finally, I want to take a minute to talk about inheritance.
I’ve seen many cases where this factor weighs in when people are deciding whether it’s time to send their loved one into a retirement facility or not.
First, let’s get one thing very clear: the money or property a person amasses in their life is theirs. It is to help provide for themselves after they retire and this may very well include purchasing professional caring services.
In those cases, you shouldn’t see it as a drain to your finances. You do not actually have a right to an inheritance; only as much as the person is willing to concede.
That being said, you do have a right to what is left after they have passed on. But please don’t think of yourself first and your parent second. They have earned the right to purchase the care they want or need.
The Golden Rule
And I’ll leave you with this. If you only walk away remembering one thing from this conversation it is this…
As with all things in life; do the job willingly, with no conditions attached, or don’t do it at all.
Have a parent that’s causing you stress? Download our free Challenging Behaviors Guide to discover how you can understand the underlying causes, maintain your relationship and de-stress each day.