Managing Expectations of Yourself When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer's

Last updated: November 2022

Do you ever find yourself beating yourself up for not being able to accomplish as much as you did before your loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer's? Do you ever feel bad for letting things go or not maintaining your usual standards?

When I was caring for my mom with Alzheimer's, I often found that I was beating myself for not being able to do as much as I did before I started caring for her. I felt bad that I didn't have as much energy to keep up with everything that I usually did.

My house wasn't always as clean as it used to be, and I didn't always have time to make sure the fridge and pantry were stocked. I didn't always respond to texts or emails immediately, and sometimes I forgot to respond. I didn't have as much time or energy to keep in touch with my friends or other family members.

As much as I knew why I couldn't do it all, I still put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything done as I had before I started caring for my mom.

The same standard

It took some time to realize that I could no longer hold myself to the same standard as I had before my mom got sick. During previous times in my life, I had more time and energy to get things done. I wasn't always consumed with dread and the stress of caring for my mom.

Those were different times, and caring for my mom was a much harder season of my life. I had to adjust my expectations of myself accordingly. I couldn't expect to get as much done or have as much time to devote to everyone else in my life.

Adjusting your standards when you are a caregiver

When you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, it requires all of your time, energy, and attention.

You probably won't be able to keep your house as clean as it was before. You probably won't be able to always run all your errands or accomplish everything on your to-do list. It might take you longer to respond to a friend's text, or you might not have the time to make regular phone calls. You might not even be able to keep your appearance to the standard it once was. I know I lived in gym clothes and never bothered to do my hair or makeup.

You also might be unable to do all the fun and exciting things you used to do. You might not be reaching big goals or chasing big dreams. Your day-to-day life might feel like a bad day that just keeps repeating itself. It might take all the energy you can muster just to get out of bed in the morning.

Give yourself a break

My point is that it's all okay. If all you do every day is get through it, that's enough. You are in survival mode. You shouldn't expect yourself to be able to continue doing all of the things you did before your loved one got sick. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is a full-time job, and you may even have a regular full-time job on top of it. Give yourself a break!

This is a difficult season of your life. It won't always be this hard. You will be able to raise your expectations of yourself again someday. But for now, show yourself grace, love, and kindness. You're doing all you can.

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