It’s an understandably difficult decision when you are considering the care needs of your spouse and your own capabilities. Coping with placing a spouse in a nursing home is enormously tough, often when you yourself need support too. It’s also difficult to know when it is the right time to make that decision, and how to go about it.
Nursing home guilt, as well as the feelings of loss, are just two of the common negatives partners face when they are coping with placing a spouse in a nursing home. However, it can often help to turn the situation on its head and look at the positives this decision can also bring.
Often, early in your thought process you will be faced with concerns and questions regarding how it will all work financially if one of you goes into residential care. This is understandably unsettling. However it isn’t an uncommon situation. The Age UK factsheet 39 entitled ‘Paying for care in a care home if you have a partner’ will help to answer many of your questions. This article is aimed more at the emotional and logistically aspects of coping with placing a spouse in a nursing home ad nursing home guilt.
If you are finding yourself struggling to meet the care needs of your spouse, and potentially yourself as a consequence, then it is time to consider what help is available. You may have made promises to each other in the past about this exact eventuality, but now it is here and you realise that the reality is far tougher than the earlier discussions. It’s important to remember that those discussions took place looking at unpredictable circumstances. What you need to consider is what is best for you both now.
You can find out more information about making the decision in our article ‘When is it time for a nursing home’. However, for spouses rather than other family members it is important to ask these key questions:
It’s common to begin putting your needs second as you try valiantly to meet the care needs of your spouse so that you can prevent the need for a nursing home. However, in our vast experience from our care homes in Somerset, this argument often backfires. The reality is that you won’t be able to meet the practical care needs of your spouse as efficiently as a trained team of carers with the right resources. The impact on your own health and wellbeing can gradually begin to put you both in jeopardy.
You may find you start berating yourself as you endeavour to do more, but without the energy and infrastructure of a care setting, this is unfair to yourself. You aren’t doing anything wrong by not coping, it is just a sad reality of increasing care needs and your own advancing age. It can help to think how difficult it would be for one fit and able full-time carer to do everything you do. The perspective can help you realise how much you are shouldering.
Another thing that can help is to address your preconceptions of nursing homes. Do you have a negative idea in mind based on care homes you’ve experienced in the past? If so, it may be worth looking again. You can now see ‘on paper’ how good a care home is according to the Care Quality Commission. Search for homes here but also arrange to visit one or few to get the feel of the care homes. At Eastleigh Care Homes we are always willing to welcome spouses to see for themselves what our care homes in Somerset and Devon are like. Often, this can allay fears and instead leave you feeling far more positive about the decision.
Once you have understood the practicalities of the need for a care home for your spouse you should be prepared for a mix of emotions to hit. In particular, it is not at all uncommon to experience nursing home guilt – a sense of shame and guilt for not coping, and having made this decision. Other emotions can include loss, grief, relief, loneliness and anxiety. Your response is normal, and you need support.
Now is the time to remember back to the practicalities and why this was and is the right decision for both of you. Remind yourself that your spouse is now going to be receiving the care they need which also frees you up to go back to the role of partner and companion in a more sustainable way. Choose a nursing home which you can access and welcomes family members as essential to their care, and think about how your new routine can work.
Talk to friends and others who have faced similar decisions and realise that you are far from alone and that there is nothing shameful about your decision. If you have other family members involved, be honest with them about how the situation is affecting you and seek out solutions together. It can be helpful to think together which possessions your spouse will take with them for example, rather than making these decisions alone.
Finally, as we talk about in the article above, get in tune and realistic about your own limitations. You may discover that by arranging for your spouse to go into a nursing home that you had failed to realise the enormity of the impact of their care on you. Look after yourself and consider your care needs too. Sometimes caring for another can mask our own need for support and as these changes take place, it can be a good time to consider what support you need too.
To come and see for yourself how our care homes in Somerset and Devon will welcome you as much as your spouse, call us on 01769 572510.