Alzheimer's Caregiving: My Biggest Fears and How I Overcome Them

I have a confession to make - sometimes, I don't feel like I know what I am doing. My management classes in graduate school taught me nothing about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

All that economic theory and political science counts for zero when I am trying to get her into a change of clothing. Nothing in my work experience helps me. Even raising 2 children feels completely different. I know there is literature out there and videos help, but I don't have a textbook to study or a test to prepare for and take. Where are my notes?

Am I doing this right?

It can be frustrating flying this plane so low without controls. I struggle to find my bearing. Is up really, down? With frustration comes fear. With confusion comes hesitation.

I like closure and lists. I like getting the job done and I am never quite sure when my task is accomplished and if I did it well. I fear that I won't do the best thing - the right thing. I fear doing the wrong thing.

My biggest fears are not about her really. They are more about me.

Managing these caregiver "expectations"

How do I manage this? I have learned that I am not going to be perfect, that I am going to make mistakes. I have learned that I do not always need to feel closure. Some tasks can go left partially done and that is okay. I have learned that there are no formulas that work in every instance. I need to be flexible and adjust.

I don't always need to know my bearing and have a clear understanding of every little situation fits into the whole. I am okay with living in the moment and letting the future be for a later date.

I have learned to hold my plans loosely and not be tied to them. I have learned that I don't have to be THE best caregiver of all time, but to do my best in THIS time.

I have learned that frustration does not help me or her or anyone. It doesn't help my family or friends. Frustration is the result of unmet expectations. I have come to terms with having lowered expectations and raised awareness of seemingly minor accomplishments. Sometimes just getting teeth brushed is like putting a man on the moon.

I don't need to try and pass inspection like a marine recruit in basic training. Sometimes my collar is folded up or there is a wrinkle in my bedding. Sometimes the bed isn't even made. I have stopped self-judging and have been focusing less on my performance and more on her care - and that has made all the difference.

Caregiving: A humbling experience

This whole experience has humbled me. I have a master's degree, a black belt, and have been at the top of my field but now I feel like an apprentice and with no idea where the expert teachers are. Then, I look around. I read about others who are overcoming their fears and doing heroic work for their loved ones. I see their love, commitment, and creativity and I am inspired to be better.

We are writing the textbook together. We are compiling a body of knowledge that will benefit others long term. It is my privilege to be part of this team with our community to be the authors. I overcome my personal fears of inadequacy by realizing that I am serving my loved one and the community at large when I do my best.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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