Guilt & Holidays

RACHAEL PODCAST COVER – Season 4

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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.

2 thoughts on “Guilt & Holidays”

  1. I’m the out of town relative. I read up on dementia and other health issues my parents have, in large part because my family tells me so little. I see Mom cutting Dad down and so strongly wish she would get some respite care. My sister who lives close to them is offended, says it doesn’t matter that Mom is crabby to him because he forgets it anyway.
    I realize I can’t make anyone do anything, so I’ll ask you this: how can a far-away person help out?

    1. Hi Jen! I would say to your sister and also to your mom (gently as you can), “Feelings stick in our memory banks. When we’ve been belittled or made upset by someone, that feeling begins to build and sticks around even when our short-term memories are damaged.”

      Is there a way you can pay for a home care assistant to come in a few days a week? Say it’s your gift, and you want to do it, so you won’t take “no” for an answer.

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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 two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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