“Promise You’ll Never Put Me In A Home.”
By: Carolyn Rosenblatt
Mom probably made you say it. Maybe Dad did too. Could there be anything that causes more guilt in adult children with aging parents? It’s an almost universal plea parents make to us. And we universally agree to what they ask, not thinking too far ahead.
When our aging parents extract this promise from us, they’re usually in pretty good shape and make it clear that they want to remain in their homes until they die.
Most people want that, and we’ll probably want that too as we age ourselves.
But, maybe no one planned on living to be so old as our parents are getting to be. Certainly no one plans on getting dementia, or being a huge burden to one’s children. My own Mom, (may she rest in peace) who was mentally ill and frankly, a huge burden used to say “I never want to burden you children”.
Of course, she didn’t want to, and we recognized that none of us could care for her and she spent all her last years in a care facility, where her quality of life was good.
We all have limits as caregivers. Whether they are physical, emotional, financial or family tolerance limits, we all have them. There is only so much we can do and so much we can take before we reach the breaking point.
When we’re past our own limits, we may start to recognize that we are not going to be able to keep going as full time caregivers for our parents.
As they decline in health and require more care, day and night, sometimes with difficult to manage behaviors, it can sap our energy, wipe us out emotionally and financially, and threaten our health and our relationships.
It can cause us to break that ill-thought-out promise we made before we and our parents really knew what we were promising. We probably didn’t understand the level of our own personal sacrifice involved when we said Mom or Dad would never be in a care facility.
My client, “Jim” took care of his Mom full time at home, with help from his wife. He, too had made the promise. As Mom developed dementia and was unable to care for herself, as well as being unable to sleep nights, Jim grew totally exhausted.