When your relatives think you “shouldn’t have moved mom”


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When the holidays come around, your relatives come in from out of town. And, of course, they also bring a lot of opinions with them. 

I can’t tell you how many of my residents’ adult kids come in, upset, and tearfully tell me that their cousins/siblings/aunts and uncles/friends/etc. think that they “shouldn’t have moved mom [the loved one with dementia] into a home.”

I wrote my book “When Someone You Know Is Living in a Dementia Care Community” because there’s almost no information out there for people looking to move a loved one into a long-term care community. If you Google “dementia care,” you’ll find a ton of information about how to care for a loved one at home. You’ll learn a lot about dementia and probably a lot of tips and problem-solving tricks for people who want to keep a loved one with dementia at home with them.

You’ll find nearly nothing (except a bunch of ads) on long-term care living. It’s a type of “shaming” that I’ve recently become familiar with. Nearly everyone I talk to who is thinking about moving a loved one with dementia into long-term care feels guilty and anxious. They often have a bunch of relatives providing unsolicited advice about caring for their own loved one. “Well, mom always said she didn’t want to go to a home,” one relative may say. “Why can’t you just take care of her here?” another may ask. They all have opinions, but, as I tell my family caregivers, none of their opinions matter.

You’ll also hear from the people who had a loved one that they moved into long-term care. “Well, I moved dad into such-and-such place and it was a terrible experience.” That’s one person with one dad. That’s like reading one bad restaurant review out of thousands of good ones and deciding that the one bad reviewer must be correct. I’ve worked in three different communities, with hundreds of people with dementia, and I can honestly say that only one of my two communities wasn’t that great. The other two have been fantastic, and I would move my own family members there if I needed to.

The only opinion that matters when it comes to moving a loved one into long-term care is yours. That’s it. (Well, and maybe a knowledgable physician, social worker, or gerontologist with a history of good decisions in these matters.)

If you want some solicited advice, give me a call!

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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