The time finally came when my family had to make that crucial decision. I remember it clearly. My mother had lost the use of her left side. She could no longer walk. We had taken care of her at home for eight years. Fortunately, I have a huge family. We were able to take turns caring for both my father and mother. We lost our father three years ago, and that brought the downfall of my mother’s health. She no longer wanted to fight to live. She gave up. The strokes and depression had taken the best of her.
Where do we go from here? Do we continue to care for her at home or is it time to finally make the regretted decision of taking her to a nursing home? This is a decision that we did not want to consider, but the reality was facing us at that moment. The guilt immediately hit like a train wreck. We had heard about the neglect of this nursing home. How can we send mom there? We did not have the resources to continue to care for her at home. We all knew the answer, but no one dared to be the first to speak up. Caring for both parents took a toll on us. Juggling our own jobs and caring for our parents was at times too much to bear.
Then, we sat down and discussed it. Was it in the best interest of our mother to be placed in a nursing home? We all knew the answer, so we did agree it was the best choice at that time. We signed her up and a new chapter in our lives began. The guilt increased every time we left the nursing home. How could we have made such a decision? There were several people there who cared for my mother, but on the other hand some were not caring at all. This frustrated us. How could anyone not take pride in their work?
Coming from a huge family, visitors were there on a daily basis. Yet, it was not enough. We continued to ask questions: “Has she been changed? Has she been fed and given water?” What a nightmare at times. When visiting my mother, I observed other patients who never received visitors. I remember thinking, “Are they getting the adequate care?” What sadness filled the air.
Well, my mother passed away a week ago. How did we overcome the guilt of having her there in the first place? As I mentioned before, we made a schedule for visiting. Everyday people visited and asked questions. At times, the nurses there did not appreciate such questions, but we expected the best care for our mother. They were providing a service and we expected that service to be the best quality of care. My sisters visited with administrators frequently. They too did not like the idea of us being so involved, but we insisted on quality care. My advice to anyone in this situation is to continue to ask questions. Demand the best care. Even if they are short staffed, that issue is there’s and should not affect the quality of care that they are to provide. Communicate everyday with family who has previously visited. How did mom look today? Did she eat? Was she bathed? Was she combed? These are questions that we dealt with on a daily basis. Never be embarrassed to ask the nurses or their aides these questions. You have the right. Let them know from the beginning that you demand the best care.
Overall, our family did make the best decision of sending her to a nursing home. Actually, that was our only choice. We struggled throughout, but we overcame as a family. The guilt decreased through time. We all would agree that it was an honor to take care of our parents. We spent so much time with them. Even though it was difficult at times, but that time spent with them was priceless. May they both rest in peace while they are together once again. Love you mom and dad