Tips for Accepting Your New Normal
Last updated: February 2023
During the first few years of my mom's Alzheimer's journey, I refused to accept it. I knew that my mom had Alzheimer's, and I wasn't trying to deny it, but I didn’t want it to be true. There's a difference in knowing what is happening and accepting that it is happening.
Over the years, I realized that by refusing to accept my mom's Alzheimer's, I was still expecting her to be who she was before she got sick. I still expected her to be able to do all of the things she could once do. I had unrealistic expectations of my mom and our time together, which caused me to feel bitter, angry, and resentful most of the time. I realized that I was almost always disappointed after spending time with my mom.
Eventually, I was able to accept my mom's disease and manage my expectations so I could enjoy spending time with her once again. If you are struggling with accepting your new normal, here are a few tips that I recommend.
Acknowledge what you have lost
It's okay to reflect on the old version of your loved one and feel sad. You have every right to be sad! It's important to allow yourself to feel all of your feelings and not stuff them down or pretend they don't exist.
Embrace what you still have. It would be easy to focus only on what you have lost and to feel sad all of the time. But then, you might miss out on what you still have. Make a list of everything your loved one can still do and everything you can still do together. You may be surprised at how many things you can come up with!
Start a gratitude practice. Each morning, write down three things you are grateful for. This will help you focus on what you have instead of what you have lost. It will also help you find more things to be grateful for.
Manage, adjust, and check-in
Manage your expectations. You can't expect your loved one to be able to do things they could do before they were diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia. You have to meet your loved one where they're at today and focus on the abilities they currently have.
When you notice you're your loved one is struggling with something new, you will have to adjust your expectations accordingly. Once you stop expecting your loved ones to be who they were, you can start accepting them for who they are now.
Check-in with yourself constantly. As your loved one's disease progresses, it's important for you to take some time to think about what has changed and what you've lost. You may find it helpful to journal about how you feel or talk to someone about it. You should allow yourself to grieve all of the losses along the way and reevaluate your expectations as needed.
Tips for accepting a new normal with Alzheimer's
By using these tips, I hope you are able to accept your new normal and actually enjoy spending time with your loved one again!
What are some ways that you have learned to cope with a loved one's Alzheimer's diagnosis? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
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