When is Enough, Enough?

Yesterday I wrote, “We are only responsible as we are able to respond.” I got new insight into this concept as I was recovering from my total knee replacement surgery. During that time there were many things I just couldn’t do. For a brief, but enjoyable period I was not responsible for my share of the housework (washing dishes, taking out the trash, etc.) because I was indeed unable to do those things.

Sometimes we complicate our lives by committing to, or promising to do (or not do) things that are really beyond ability to respond. As much as I sometimes wish it were possible, and in spite of the modern trend of multi-tasking, I can still only be at one place at a time!

When it comes to Hospice Care we see often see this problem in connection with decisions to place a loved one in an extended care facility (Nursing Home). Many parents and spouses place heavy burdens upon their loved ones by extracting promises to “Never put me in one of those places!”

After many years of visiting in these facilities I can understand the reluctance that people have regarding Nursing Homes. There is no doubt that the quality and level of care can vary greatly from excellent to negligent. When considering placing a loved one or yourself in such a situation it important to choose the best possible facility your budget can handle.

However, this being said there often comes a time when care at home is no longer possible. For example, we often see aged spouses attempting home care long after they no longer have the physical strength to care for a husband or wife who can no longer perform their own daily tasks. The stress of feeding, bathing, cleaning up after “accidents” is just too much.

The tough question becomes “When is enough, enough?” I wish there were an easy answer.  However, it lies in an honest appraisal of our ability to respond. When we no longer have the ability to care for our loved one, when such care is less than adequate and when we are doing more harm to ourselves than help to the patient it is time to find a long term care placement.

Such a placement is not abandonment. Daily visits are possible. When others take over the demands of physical care we can have the energy for more personal quality time with our loved one.

It’s not an easy topic. I hope this was helpful.


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