Breaking a promise

February 7, 2017

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wheelchair

So many of us have promised our parents that we’d never put them in a home.

And then, one day, we do.

Putting a loved one in residential care is an incredibly difficult decision for anyone. It’s even harder when doing so breaks a promise we’ve made.

Here’s what our community has to say about it.


I do care for my invalid Mother at home, but promises or not, there are instances where one can no longer care for a parent; so choose a nursing home carefully, visit very often. – Phyllis M.

What if you get sick? Or disabled? Of course you provide better care than other people would but it is important to make plans for what to do in case of emergency. Caregivers develop illnesses and have accidents just like non-cargivers. – Jeananne E.

I tried as hard as I could not to put my dad into a nursing home. I had to in the end for the last months of his life because I couldn’t lift him anymore. He died not forgiving me for doing that. No one else helped me care for him all those years. Now I care for my mum and I am doing a great job. However she knows that I will only put her in a home when I can no longer care for her re my health or my inability to lift her etc. I will sleep well when she goes to God because I know I have done all I could for her and dad. Those who do nothing are the first to throw stone. They are the ones who live their lives only unto themselves. – Diann P.

My moms care is taking its toll on me, physically, emotionally, spiritually. It’s difficult to say the least. – GG W.

When you keep anyone you are caring for in your home it engulfs you. I have had the greatest caretakers in for Mom. We are truly blessed for that. It’s my time now to live. I have a world to conquer before my last breathe is taken. Address the problems and run it like a business but remember you can only run hard for a few years. Then it’s time to make this decision. Best of luck! – Diane B.

Many families have no choice. We should not shame people who are at the end of their ability to caregive. And sometimes when people get to this point the care at home is awful. I have seen this many times. I understand care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may not be good but sometimes there is just “The end” to the ability to caregive especially if the care recipient is violent or doesn’t sleep. – Jeananne E.

Social isolation

I think keeping a loved one at home after decades of illness is not good for the loved one or caregivers. It sets everyone up for injury, undue chronic stress and most caregivers are physically incapable of the job. The whole family should matter not just the sick person.

Keeping the individual at home sets everyone up for extreme social isolation cutting them off from services and finding friends. Nothing like group depression to compound issues. If you realize the family member has deteriorated beyond the point you can safely care for them, bite the bullet.

That said, I believe most families are deterred by what they see as high costs and that once the family member runs out of money, he’ll be evicted and back at home. – Angela M.

Your safety

I promised that for both of my parents.

But I did have to put my dad into a nursing home after years of caring for him at home because he was becoming too violent.

It’s a horrible feeling when you have to physically restrain your father because he is trying to kill you. I dealt with his verbal and emotional abuse for years but on two occasions he tried to end my life due to the demented state he was in.

I still care for my mom in my home. – Lorne S.

My MIL will cuss you, hit you, and throw things at you! She would stab us if we didn’t hide all the knives. – Vickie B.

Your health

Sometimes we must make decisions that are difficult due to our own health or situation. Do the very best that you can with love. I do care for my mother at home, but understand if one cannot. Only one who has been there can understand. – Phyllis M.

I used to visit the “Old Folks Home” on my way home from elementary school. I promised my Mom she would never have to go there. It was like the dog pound. I quit working and took care of her, by myself, until she passed at age 94. Her dementia took a toll on me that will last all my life. – Cherie H.

I know I can’t change a diaper of a 230 lb woman for the next 10 years while working and raising my daughter. – Jennifer G.

It’s not abandonment

“Abandoning” is the key word here.

When your parent(s) go to live at assisted-living or nursing home, visit/call them often. Then, you aren’t abandoning them. – Kristi W.

My mom is in assisted living 3 miles away. She has her own room. I take her to all of her doctor and dentist appointments plus we have her over every week for a break from her home, to go to church with us, and have a family meal. I also buy all her clothing and personal needs items plus clip her fingernails and bring her to get haircut. She won’t let the aids cut her fingernails. She wants me to do it. She is able to live out her life there even in hospice. Since she is so close we will be able to be there all the time anyway should that time come. – Jeannine G.

You can not risk your health way of living or sanity to take care of a parent. If they were in their right frame of mind they wouldn’t want you to. Take care of yourself and visit often. Take them out on outings if their health allows. – Renea L.

Written by Michelle Daly

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60 Comments

  1. I had to do what is in my father’s best interests. I have 3 chronic illnesses myself, and after having to change his Tena brief and clean him up with him sitting on the brief because he couldn’t stand, I decided it was time. People can’t imagine what it is like to try and get a dirty brief off of someone sitting on it, clean up the person, and get the clean brief all the person all without them being able to stand. I have to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of him. Now trained staff take care of him, and I help take care of him by doing things I can do such as order his supplies which is a savings, take care of his bills, etc. Each situation has to be evaluated as each situation is different.

    Reply
    • Spot on. If the caregiver’s health is fragile, how can you take good care of an ever MORE fragile person? Im healthy, but I had to have an appendectomy in December, and it opened my eyes to what disaster could be waiting around the next corner. And every time I hoist that wheelchair in and out of the car, I say a quick prayer for my shoulders to stay strong!

      Reply
  2. Residential living is not a bad thing. It provides a lot of pluses.

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  3. I am a caregiver to my husband for 10yrs now and work in a nursing home. And yes i made the same promise but i also understand both sides. He says he would rather kill himself than go into a home.

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  4. I’d rather be in a facility. I would never ask someone else I loved to do what I had to do for my husband. Never.

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    • How fortunate am I to have a Mom who said all along that she did not want to live with any of her kids. After she broke some major bones at age 90, once she had recovered enough, we went shopping for a good assisted living home. She picked it out after we saw a few (I pre shopped and narrowed it down). Now she is age 98 and has severe dementia, but was able to stay in same facility, just move into the nursing care wing. She took care of her Mom for many years until grandma developed dementia, and I think it took a tole on her, she did not want to do that to her kids.

      Reply
  5. It’s a hard decision.. I’ve always been the Caregiver… my kids, worked in childcare, grandkids, uncle, cared for my husband, 8 mos. Just before his death of glioblastma cancer last year… Can’t seem to get myself back to working outside the home… Hopefully I’ll be able to care for my uncle 86.. the lifting is the hardest part.. from the floor. But I will til I no longer can… Then there’s me.. I wonder if my kids will put me in a facility… It won’t be possible for them to stay home.. they have there Families.. That’s life .. not everyone thinks the same.. I’m just Blessed and glad I’m able to do what I can… depends on the situation.. financially or ability..

    Reply
  6. I truthfully feel the promise is “to care”. The reality about “at home”is just not always possible or healthy. I think finding the most balanced plan possible is key. I say this as a professional but as a caregiver myself. Caring for someone at home until you yourself are ill because you made a promise is not really in the person you love’s best interest. I also believe that when a loved one goes to an assisted Living or a nursing home you are still providing care and are still a caregiver.

    Reply
  7. One day it will be my children’s turn to make the same decision for me.

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  8. I will never put my Daddy in a facility because I believe he does not deserve that.

    Reply
    • I thought that then one day realized, I couldn’t do it anymore. Finally placed her. It’s what’s best for us.

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  9. Brenda your a ledgen Your Mum and Dad have raised an absolute wonderful daughter x x

    Reply
  10. I am caring for my mom 24/7. She is in the final stage of Alzheimer’s and has stage 4 Cancer. I have a very supportive husband as well as 2 children. I made that promise and though I have really rough days with her I have no regrets. Not everyone can care for a parent like that and that is ok. I will never judge. I will not put momma in a home she will not need one for I am providing hospice care now. She has only a couple of months left. Every minute I have with her is precious to me but I also love her and can let her go when the time comes for her to reunite with daddy.

    Reply
  11. We are 2 years into a diagnosis of dementia… it is really affecting my 16 year old… we live together with my mom… I don’t know what to do.. she made me promise years ago to never put her in a home… I just don’t know how much more we can take…

    Reply
    • I’ve been taking care of my father for 5 years since my mother passed . Mom knew she was dying and was worried about who was gonna comb dads hair . I told her I would comb his hair and I would take care of him even if it killed me. Believe me it has been hard, in the beginning there wasn’t a day that I didn’t cry, but I knew I had to hide it from dad. One day it was a really bad day he had diarrhea all in his diaper and all over himself. I was cleaning him and the smell was killing me so I lost it , he was laying on the bed and I started crying I turned my head so he wouldn’t see me. He could hear the sniffles I was trying to hold back. I kept my face down so he couldnt see me crying. He says Brenda are you catching a cold , I said dad I don’t think so I need to blow my nose . So I said dad I will be back. I went and blew my nose . I just didn’t know how much more I could take. I have quit crying like I did I have realized that I chose to take care of my dad and I will till I can’t get up out of bed. My dad has Alzheimer’s and in a wheelchair . I have learned to accept waking up everyday and walking into the kitchen to sit down just for 5 minutes to drink my coffee and I look toward the living room and there is a little old mans head popping up trying to see what’s going on. I know its time to leave my coffee he’s hungry. This is my life for now and I love taking care of dad . I use to regret it but not anymore , the only thing is I say every morning please dad be good to me this morning give me a clean diaper. Yes, I’m tired of changing poop diapers , but I put my gloves on and do my job. I thank God that he gives me the strength to keep going everyday even with my illness. I wouldnt have it any other way .

      Reply
    • Respite caregiving is available and affordable. You will be able to take necessary breaks….few hrs or days if needed, without the guilt of abandonment.

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  12. Never made that promise nor do I think my Parents, now deceased, expected me to. My Dad was able to pass on at home with the help of Hospice, my Mom and myself. My Mom unfortunately passed in a hospital ICU after I had to make the decision of Comfort Care.

    After many years of solo caregiving for my Mom, I have already told my Daughter that I will be Ok going to a Nursing Home if need be, but she must be diligent in overseeing my care. Love my Daughter, but do not think she has the stamina of caregiving daily. It’s exhausting and stressful. She suffers from a chronic illness that zaps her health and energy level. I would not want to be a burden to that.

    Reply
  13. We took care of her as long as we could
    But jobs and 24 hour care do not mix
    People have to sleep, it sucked.

    Reply
  14. I made that promise to my parents. Now, dad is 101, going strong, and my fear is that I won’t hold up as his co-caregiver. One day at a time with God’s grace is the answer. I’m 72. At the rate he’s going, he might outlast me!

    Reply
  15. Because we have no idea what’s ahead. None if us. Especially if we have limited financial resources.

    Reply
    • And often as on our case we didnt have a choice neither my sister nor I could care for mother at home. And in the early days once she got her own room with a bit of a view she really was quite happy

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    • That transition is never easy.

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  16. No I didn’t!! I’ve sacrificed alot. Alot!!!! But I wouldn’t want it any other way for them. Blessed that I was and am able to do so.

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  17. There are wonderful care facilities if you have the money. Thank heavens I do. Mom has physical therapy, art, music, her own small apartment, gerontologist on site. I see her often and they do better than I could.

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  18. With both mum & dad we never said we wouldn’t put them in a home or care environment-we did however say if their condition went beyond what we could manage at home as a family with the support of the health care professionals for their wellbeing we would-all I’d like to say is a big Thankyou to everyone who does their best for loved ones be that care at home or in a care setting-your all very special people

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  19. Be honest and tell them only id there is no other means to care for you safely.

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  20. We had to put my father in law in because we just had no choice and it was what was best for them. We keep a close check on him and visit him often. Almost daily. I think that is the most important part. If you have to put them in a facility you can’t just forget them. You need to go see them. Talk to them. Take them on outings if they can go.

    Reply
  21. I have never made that promise but will work hard to keep dad home.

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  22. I kept my mam at home with me until the end

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  23. I’ve never made that promise, because I have to be realistic. Its not easy caring for Mom 24/7, but I knew that going in. My wish is for her to die here in my home in her room surrounded by the things and people she loves, but I’m not attached to that wish. All I can do is give her my best, and I do that every day.

    Reply
  24. I will never, put my mother somewhere that she doesn’t know, or belong, nor let someone else take care of my mother with Demendia, she is at her home, with me caring for her every need, and is doing better than before. It’s not easy, but it wasn’t that easy for her either, being a single loving mother, and taking care of all my needs as a child, through adulthood. I feel like I should do what God has call a pone me to do as a child of God, that she raised me to be. God is so good to thee, through Christ Jesus that strengthen me everyday. Amen.

    Reply
  25. There will never be “one answer or solution” to this very complex question. I finally had to do what was best for my Pop. Home care is a joke! Way too expensive for it to be an answer, in our case, and it turned out to be inconvenient and frustrating dealing with what was “sold” and actually provided. (I know there are good provider’s. I just couldn’t find nor afford one in Central Indiana) I know my Pop is recieving good care whare he is and have begun to forgive myself for all that family member’s should forgive themselve’s for. Much Love and Respect for those that are fighting this battle, and PLEASE keep yourself and other family member’s in mind while making the decision.

    Reply
  26. Thank you. I always promised. Now, I just don’t know…

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  27. Most loving children make this promise…I did. Had I but known the toll caring for my mom 24/7 would take, I would never have promised. But, I was totally unaware of all the complexities both mentally, physically, that this promise would entail. I forgive myself daily… although my heart still aches that I could not live up to the promise that no one should ever make. She died in 2010 in a county nursing home. (I could afford a caregiver for only 4 hours 2x’s a week until dementia took control of her body and mind) Be kind to yourself, there are circumstances that are beyond our physical endurance .

    Reply
  28. I lived this with my Mom. It is all very true. Mom was in assisted living for 7 months before she passed.

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  29. This is sad, just do to the fact that sometimes there’s no other choice. But I tell people never feel guilty, sometimes it’s for the best. You have to do what’s best for everyone concerned. ✝

    Reply
  30. Instead of promising we will never put someone in a care facility, we need to say that we will always make sure they are safe and well cared for. We need to recognize that it is unrealistic to say”never.”

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  31. It’s kind of selfish to ask your kids to promise to always have you at home. The article tells many reasons why sometimes home is not the best or safest. It’s good to have conversations and plan ahead to have the best possible options for different possible situations. No one wants to go to a crappy, low quality nursing home!

    Reply
  32. I never thought I would but after 3 years 24/7 care I realized it was necessary.
    My health was dwindling. I was losing me. Doesn’t mean I don’t love her. Means that I am honest with the situation. I check in on her. Have people seeing her. It kills me everyday. I know I did right when I look in the mirror and see this old lady, me, yet my mother is at the last lap of her life, I am at the middle hopefully of my life it’s called survival.

    Reply
  33. I never had a conversation with my parents about nursing homes. I had to put my mom in Assisted Living because her foster care wasn’t enough care. I have been taking care of her since age 9. When I was laid off twice in 3 years it was clear to me I would not be able to sustain her living with me, and I lost my health too.

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  34. I gave my kids permission years ago that if they determined I needed to be in a care facility it would be ok.

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  35. God help us….i hope I can hold up to endure the caregiving!

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  36. There comes a time when you have to do whats best..no matter how hard it is..God bless

    Reply
  37. This day haunts me, and my parents live in seperate states. I hope I never have to do this.

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  38. I promised her I’d never put her in a home… and then I did too. I totally understand.

    Reply
  39. Not like the old days when peopke took care of the elders – sad

    Reply
  40. Sometimes in the later stages when a person can no longer be in at home you have no choice. I know of a situation where a person kept falling off of their bed and the emt’s kept bringing them to the hospital. You do the best you can till the end. Sometimes and in some cases it can’t be avoided.

    Reply
  41. I’ve had to have three neck surgeries taking care of my mother, but I still can’t put her in a nursing home.

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  42. It is hard about anyone in a struggle with health and mobility issues, my husband of 42 years who has advanced PD, I say no but when you are the sole caregiver, it begins to take it’s toll. I pray for God to keep me able. I also help my Dad,it is hard.

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  43. I just had to place my mom 2 weeks ago. It kills me eveyday.

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  44. Peg and her siblings struggled with the putting in home issue. It gets tougher to care for them as they age and no longer totally communicate

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  45. Sad, but real. Such a hard decision.

    Reply

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