Four Steps To Relieve Guilt

Kori Lecompte



Anyone who has faced the question of admitting an elderly loved one into a
nursing home or continuing to care for him or her at home knows that the
decision comes with the struggle of guilt.


Camelot Place of Crowley administrator Alisha Babin connects directly with
potential and current residents and their families and offers support in lightening
the burden of the decision. She admits that the residents tend to adjust more
quickly and smoothly than their family members, who often question whether
they are truly helping their loved ones or abandoning them.


“It’s important for families to know that we treat the residents as our own family,”
said Babin. “We make it clear that the family members know the resident better
than we ever could and invite open conversation – from the admit process to
staffing and care meetings following admittance.”


1. Do your homework. Find a good match for your loved one.


Babin has been with Camelot for seven years and has learned that patience and
communication are key to comforting residents, and by extension, their family
members. She says building trust with residents and offering love and genuine
care — rather than simply providing basic needs, goes a long way in making
them comfortable in their new home. Such measures can also help ensure family
members that they have made the right decision in getting them the best care
possible.


For some, the internal battle over a caregiver’s difficult decision may emerge
after a loved one has been admitted into a nursing home. By proving top-of-the-
line care and open communication, the Camelot staff hopes to alleviate the guilt
family members may experience.
Though many families avoid open discussions of nursing home possibilities until
absolutely necessary, Babin and other Camelot staff encourage families to talk
about options with the elderly, allowing them to be as much a part of the
relocation decision-making process as possible.


2. Start the process early.


Psychiatrist Dr. Stephan Quentzel recommends visiting nursing homes while
parents or spouses are still in a coherent state, so they can have a say in the
matter. Empowering their choices for the future may allow relatives to rest
assured of the residents’ contentment and help alleviate feelings of helplessness
or inflated sense of responsibility if and when the time to make the move arrives.

3. Share useful and insightful information about your loved one with
the nursing home before the resident moves in.


Once the decision has been made, Babin and her Camelot team do their
research, learning as much as they can about the preferences of a new resident
before he or she arrives as possible.


“We try to find residents who would be good matches, so we can introduce them
and encourage them to participate and come out of their rooms,” she said. “We
also learn as much as we can about dietary preferences, beyond just food
allergies. Here in South Louisiana, food plays a hefty part in the quality of life.
Once we understand dietary needs, the adjustment process is easier.”
Of course, planning ahead is not always possible. Many enter care due to a fall
or other physical disability or a declining mental state, all of which can deem
them incapable of living at home safely.


4. Build relationships with nursing home staff.


Babin recalls a woman whose daughter and husband brought her in for a tour.
The woman, an Alzheimer’s patient, had begun to walk outside and get lost. Her
husband felt guilty for not being able to take care of her himself and told Babin
that the nursing home was not home. A week after his wife’s admittance, he
apologized to Babin for his mood and told her that his statement had been
inaccurate. Even after his wife passed away, he continues to visit the nursing
home and staff.


Many visitors and residents of Camelot notice the home-like feel of the facility.
This attribute displays the staff’s ability to treat the residents as they would
members of their own family. According to Babin, this level of care is beneficial
for the residents themselves, as well as for their loved ones’ peace of mind.
“We’ve been told so often that our facility feels more like home. The mood and
atmosphere goes such a long way in the care that’s given,” Babin said. “That’s
what we’re in the business of doing — caring for people who can’t care for
themselves.”


Camelot’s staff offers support for all loved ones of residents experiencing guilt
over this difficult decision. For more tips on managing caregiver guilt, visit
https://caregiver.com/articles/managing_caregiver_guilt/.