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Senior Care for Your Parents: Managing Decision And Guilt

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

Amy Goya had an emotional decision to make—moving her parents into an assisted living facility. Even for someone who had worked in senior care, it was a difficult process for Goya.

Managing Decision & Guilt

“It was, perhaps, one of the toughest choices I've ever had to participate in making. I have worked in the field of aging for 25 years, so perhaps I know too much. I was fully aware of the repercussions of my parents winding up in the wrong place. As a baby boomer and caregiver, I want the very best for my Mom and Dad; they deserve it.” (

For anyone, moving is a stressful time. And if you have to move your senior parents into a nursing home or assisted living facility, the stresses can be even greater.

Everything is magnified because you have to balance not only your emotions but also those of your parents. You’ll probably experience a range of feelings including guilt.

But you can manage this process minimizing the negative emotions while maximizing the best outcome for your parents.

Managing Your Emotions

This is perhaps the most important part of the process. Your parents need you. And you need to be there for them firing on all cylinders. Here are some ways to manage your emotions:

  • This isn’t your fault. It’s a natural part of life. One day you may be in the same position as your parents; your own children may be going through this with you.
  • Don’t feel guilty. Just by reading this, you are working on the best situation for your parents. Once you find them the right senior living community, you’ll be giving them the best life possible.
  • You’re not taking this situation lightly; there’s no need to second-guess yourself. Do your research. Plan. Involve your parents. And make decisions with them.
  • Recognize that this isn’t a perfect process. You want the best for your parents but along the way, there may be roadblocks.
  • Involve siblings if you have them. This can take some of the burden off you. When they’re involved, siblings can help with emotional support—they’ll appreciate what you are going through.

Considering the Move

Will you take care of your parents? Or will they need specialized senior living care. To help you and your loved ones assess the reasons for moving, consider these questions.

  • Are you able to adequately provide for your parents?
  • Do you have the resources (time, financial, living) to provide for them?
  • Is your parent suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s?
  • Do your parents require special medical care?
  • Do they have mobility issues?
  • Do you parents want to live with you?

If it appears that a senior living community is the answer, you’ll need to help your parents in their search.

Determining Your Parent’s Wants & Needs for a Senior Living Community

Everyone is different. Some loved ones may not like the idea of senior living. Others may welcome it. Whatever the reaction, be sure to get them involved in the decision-making process.

1) Determine what their needs are. Will they need assistance with meals, bathing, medications, laundry, and transportation? What are their future needs likely to be? Can their living facility provide for these future needs?

2) Ask them what they desire in their living environment. For example, out-going residents, plenty of activities, private apartment, washer/dryer, good meals, transportation to shopping and activities, close to kids and grandkids, exercise options, etc.

3) After you’ve figured out their needs, contact a senior living locater service. This service will take you on tours of various communities. If they’re able, your parents should join you on the visits. After all, they will be the ones who will need to feel comfortable there.

For help in finding an assisted living facility, see our article "Finding the Best Assisted Living Community".


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