A Daughter's Dilemma

Mami always told me, “when I’m no longer able to take care of myself, put me in a nursing home…my dignity is very important to me”.  These words and personal preferences were shared, by my now 87 year-old Mother, close to twenty years ago. At the time, Mami was physically healthy, and her mind was clear and strong. Other than never driving or speaking English, she was self-sufficient and a great role model to all her six children. At the young age of  thirty-seven, she managed to raise her four daughters and two boys on her own, after my father passed away. She was as beautiful as she was focused and her sole purpose in life was to be  a loving  parent and ensure that all our needs and necessities were met.  

In the last fourteen years, Mami’s health began to decline. She has been in and out of the hospital multiple times, close to death several times, and in rehabilitative and physical therapy services as well. Currently, Mami is afflicted with Dementia and uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus II, among other medical conditions. She is weak and frail, incontinent and recently began experiencing psychotic episodes related to her fast advanced Dementia. As a family, our hearts are broken and we struggle to find the right solution to ensure her safety and wellbeing. We have tried keeping her at home by splitting caretaking shifts, hiring private caregivers, and various other efforts.

However, the time has come when all of our efforts are insufficient to meet her medical and safety needs. We are no longer able to keep our dear Mami at home. As her daughter, I struggle with guilt feelings and have tried to think of any other possible solution that excludes nursing home placement. Losing sleep, shedding tears, feelings of utter sadness and helplessness are constant but unhelpful. Keeping Mami at home is what all of us want. But continuing to do so jeopardizes her safety and fails to meet all of her current needs.  There is no right answer. No perfect solution to this dilemma. Only what is right for her.   And what we can live with, knowing we are advocating for her needs, safeguarding her dignity and ensuring her safety.

The love we have for our Mami does not diminish based on where she resides. We, as her children, are now responsible for following her wishes. Since she’s no longer able to make her own decisions, it is up to us to balance her wishes, her needs, our own personal and cultural expectations, and more than anything, to continue honoring her and caring for her as she still continues to care for us. Regardless of her health.

Share this post: