Guilt & Holidays

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It’s that time again: the holidays. Your family is in from out of town, and boy, do they have a lot of opinions. The conversation you dread the most, though, is nothing related to politics, religion, or old family dramas—it’s the conversation surrounding your loved one with dementia.

“I think mom needs to move back home,” your brother says. He may live 500 miles away, but he’s pretty sure he knows what is best for your mother.

“We need to tell dad the truth about how long his wife has been dead,” your aunt offers, unsolicited. 

“Our aunt never wanted to be in a home!” your cousin says. 

To you, the person listening to these opinions, I say this: trust yourself. You are doing the best that you can for your loved one with dementia. 

Often, the people offering this advice to you do it out of love and concern. They aren’t sure what the best answer is, truly, but they think that they know. 

I have talked to a lot of people about how guilty they feel surrounding their loved ones’ care. These caregivers already feel anxious and bad enough, and when someone questions them, they feel even worse. 

Stay confident in the decisions you made regarding your loved one’s care. The decisions you’ve made haven’t been easy, but they have been genuine and educated.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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