Chapter 3: Recognizing your grief

Transitioning to a care facility

I've been there
Elizabeth shares about the decision to move her mother into long-term care. (3:22)Video transcript

I go to the assisted-living home to visit regularly. I know we couldn’t have looked after him at home the way he needs to be cared for. I’m relieved to know that he is in a place where he is treated with respect and kindness and he will receive the care he needs right until the end.

I didn’t want him to be placed in long-term care. I felt guilt beyond guilt that I couldn’t take care of him until the day he died.

His being in the facility is different. I’m not the caregiver and things aren’t done the way I would have done for him, but I have to accept that and let it go.

If the time has come for the person to move to a care facility, you may find yourself dealing with new losses and grief as circumstances and care roles change. This can also be a time of disruption when things seem uncertain and stressful. Click the boxes below to see examples of what you might be experiencing at this time of change.

Not having the person at home requires a major adjustment. You’ll now be faced with decisions about when and how often to visit. There may be practical factors, such as travel time, as well as emotional ones. You may feel that you should be with the person as much as possible, but you may leave feeling depleted, discouraged, or saddened; yet if you don’t visit, you may feel guilty and stressed. This is a genuine dilemma.

What may help

  • Acknowledge whatever thoughts and feelings come up, and remind yourself that these are normal.
  • Take time to get to know the facility staff and to establish relationships with them. Let them know about any concerns you have.
  • Recognize that it may take time to find a visiting schedule that works for all and that there’s no “right” answer to questions about how often or when to visit. Only you can decide what is right for you.
  • Going from full-time caregiving to suddenly having time on your own can be a big adjustment. Give yourself time to adapt to the changes.
  • As much as possible, try to find a balance between being able to enjoy parts of your life with and without the person.