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Caregiver Wisdom: Reaching the “End of the Road” with Peace & Dignity

Family Caregiver Alliance

Deciding on the right kind of care for your situation

I get very upset when one kind of caregiving is seen as “better” than other kinds. I have seen person after person (including myself) agonize over a decision to place their loved one in a SNF (skilled nursing facility) with some others expressing pride in being the “best” caregiver because they keep their loved one at home.  This is pure bunk and unfair to everyone who has to make these horrible choices.

In my case that would have meant letting my Father remain at home and continue to fall (he went through a wall one time) and endanger his safety.  It would have meant my staying up all night every night to be sure he didn’t get out of bed and fall again.  As it was I was up four or five times a night checking on him.  And leaving him on the floor while I went door-to-door to find someone who could help me lift him.  Contrary to home care being the best care, I felt I was jeopardizing his safety because it made me feel good to take care of him.

I have seen people keep their loved ones at home even when they were being physically attacked by their demented loved one.  When anyone becomes violent there really is no choice.  There’s not a single chance that I would have kept my husband at home after he pushed me down a full flight of stairs as he walked over me totally unaware of what he had done.  I realized when that happened that he could have seriously injured me and I would have had no help at all.

The best kind of caregiving is the kind which offers safety for the patient, excellent medical supervision, compassionate nursing care, and a facility which is clean and appropriate for very ill patients.  That facility may be your home, may be a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, or a board and care home.  What’s best for the sick person is the ideal, not being heroic because you cared for someone at home who really needed more and better care at a medical/professional facility.

There is no honor or glory in the best alternative for care if you realize that all of our loved ones pass away.  We are there to help them reach the end of their road with peace and dignity.  To make any caregiver feel less caring for using a particular type of care is unfair without knowing the circumstances for that individual person. Without exception, every [caregiver] has made very difficult choices . . . some giving up every aspect of their life to care for their loved one, some working fulltime and caregiving as well, some suffering from their own illnesses yet still caregiving. The list goes on and on.  The purpose of [communication] is to give everyone support and make suggestions that might be helpful.  It is ultimately the caregiver’s responsibility to make the choice or series of choices as to how their loved one will be cared for, and where, until their death.

– Lynn, Family Caregiver