All caregivers feel guilt, especially once the diagnosis has been given. Early on we don’t understand why the person with memory loss speaks or acts the way he/she does. I used to get angry at my husband thinking he was not listening to me or didn’t care. It was frustrating, but that was because I kept comparing his actions to the way he used to behave as a fully functioning and competent person…..but slowly over time he had changed.
In this world, we need to love and be loved. We also need to feel a sense of competence or mastery in order to feel good about ourselves. Alzheimer’s slowly dismantles a person’s sense of competence. While living with this disease, the AD person and their spouse, family members, or caregiver(s) do an emotional dementia dance where the steps are always new and always changing.
Many times when we are just getting used to the diagnosis, we haven’t yet assimilated it into our minds. We easily become frustrated or angry because we are remembering our loved one before the disease… the way they used to be. We also might be comparing the elicited behavior to what we would have done in the same situation.