Letting Go: The Idea of Doing Enough for Your Loved One with Alzheimer's

How many times have you asked yourself if you are doing enough for your loved one? And how many of those times have you answered no and then proceeded to beat yourself up for not doing more? That basically summarizes my thought process during the ten years my mom lived with Alzheimer's disease.

I would constantly question whether or not I was doing enough to help out and my answer was always no. Then I would beat myself up for not doing more.

Am I doing enough?

No matter how much I did for my mom it never seemed like enough. I always thought of more things I could have done.

I should have spent another hour with her.
I should have made her something better for lunch.
I should have taken her somewhere instead of sitting around the house.
I should have done another load of laundry or gone for one more walk around the neighborhood with her.

Have you ever spent the entire day tending to your loved one's every need only to end up feeling bad for that one thing you didn't do? I know I have, but it took me years to figure out why.

Why did I always feel so guilty? Why did I always feel like I wasn't doing enough?

A harsh reality

The reason I came up with this was - nothing I ever did for my mom was enough to fix her. Nothing I did would have been enough to make her better. Nothing would make her Alzheimer's go away.

And yet, I continued chasing this goal because I so desperately wanted to feel like I was helping her. I so desperately wanted to feel like I was doing as much as I possibly could - even if I couldn't make her better, then at least I knew I had tried everything.

But nothing could fix her, nothing even came close, and there was so much guilt associated with that. There was so much guilt ending the day without having done that one last thing because what if maybe, just maybe, that one last thing would have made all the difference.

Doing enough for a loved one with Alzheimer's

That's the problem with the idea of enough. No matter how much you do for your loved ones, no matter how much time you spend with them, you will always feel like you could have done more.

Enough is not an attainable goal. You will never get there. The more you do for your loved one on any given day, the more you will feel like you should do next time. You will always keep raising the bar higher and higher, but you will never be able to reach it.

Just do your best

When it comes to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, there is no set definition of enough. It is immeasurable. You will burn yourself out if you continue chasing the goal of doing enough for your loved one.

But what if you simply try to do your best on any given day? What if you just do what you can, when you can? And what if you forgive yourself for not being able to do more? Wouldn't that make things just a little bit easier?

Let go of the idea and just do your best. That's really all you can do.

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