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Your Promise to “Take Care Of”: Overcoming Guilt

If you ask a lawyer to define what it means to “take care of” someone, you would get an answer like “to make sure that someone’s needs are met”. Makes sense. But when we speak those words lovingly to an elderly mom or dad, the phrase becomes so much more than three words. It digs deep into the fabric of our family dynamics.

And, when a loved one is diagnosed with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and needs to be transitioned to a memory care community, it is the promise to “take care of” them, which keeps adult children awake at night.

Putting Guilt in its Place

You may remember Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 1970’s best seller, “Your Erroneous Zones”. He devoted an entire chapter to “Guilt and Worry: The Most Useless Emotions”. And, of course, it’s true. Guilt can destroy our health and our relationships; but it does little to advance positive action or help others.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to push guilt to a place where it does not dominate your life.

  1. Share your guilt: Recognize that you can’t handle this alone. It’s important to get professional help before your guilt reaches unhealthy levels. Find a licensed therapist who specializes in helping overcome guilt and the struggles associated with caregiving. Consider joining a dementia support group [link to last blog on dementia support] where others are dealing with similar issues.
  2. Put your promise into perspective: It’s important to remember that, at the time you made your promise, you could not have anticipated where future challenges would take you and your loved one. Author and elder care expert, Carol Bradley Bursack, encourages caregivers to put promises made in perspective. She writes in Agingcare.com, “Remember that caring for your parent for as long as you have, has honored the spirit of your original promise. The idea is that you have done all you can to keep your elders safe and to help them through some tough times. However, times have gotten tougher than you expected, and you must look for other options. This is okay.”
  3. Take action, gain control: Taking positive actions will not only prepare for a transition, but will put you in a position of greater control over your situation. Visit local memory care communities. Ask plenty of questions. Arm yourself with information. “Take care of” your parent by becoming his or her greatest advocate.

Keeping your promise to “take care of” your loved one.

Making the decision to move a loved one to a community where he or she will be properly looked after is a loving decision. Many caregivers report that having a parent in a memory care community has actually strengthened their relationship. The time spent together is less stressful, since they are not worrying about day to day practicalities. Instead, they are able to concentrate 100% on re-connecting with the mom or dad they love. You can too.

Anthem Memory Care welcomes you to visit our resources page for tips and articles about “taking care of” the person you love.