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I am a caregiver for my 80 year old father. He has Alzheimer's/Dementia. My father has always been a stubborn man. I was in denial about his illness. I figured he'd get better. About a year into his care, I didn't understand how he could forget simple things like using a walker, buttoning his shirt. I wanted him to get better so I was firm with him as far as doing things for himself. We recently saw a neurologist. I now understand a little better and wish I could do that first year over. I would have been more compassionate. How do I get over the guilt of not being as compassionate as I should have been. I've apologized to him a million times, he says he loves me and this is what kills me. He is so kind and I was so harsh.

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One thing you need to keep telling yourself is that none of us have been trained to understand what is happening to someone who has memory issues. I never even heard of Alzheimer's/Dementia until the past few years.

Your Dad is like my Dad, so very kind. I felt so bad yelling at my Dad whenever he would call me on the phone saying he was going to start driving again. Say what??? It was a hot button topic for me that would rear its ugly head every now and then. If only I knew what was the best thing to say to Dad.

Thank goodness for this website. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to the blue section. Lot of great topics with excellent articles. Thus, read, read, read. Learn all you can. It will help you get you through some of these moments.
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The fact that you have regrets just shows you are a caring person, how many people have you met who never feel any remorse because they believe they can do no wrong? We all think, say and do things that are hurtful to others, the key is that you recognized your mistake and apologized, now you move on.
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It's not your fault that the family members of those with dementia are not given more information and better education on the condition. EVEN doctors and healthcare staff don't seem to know as much as they should.

The thing is, is that now that you know, you will adjust your expectations. To me, that's why so many family members feel so frustrated. They keep expecting something that is not possible. Now that you know, you can be more realistic. I'd tell dad that I was sorry and move on. Parents forgive their kids, because that's what you do when you love someone. I'd take comfort that your dad may not even recall what you feel so bad about. Moving forward, you can do things differently and take comfort in that.
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One of my favorite Oprah-ism’s is “When you know better - you do better”.

The journey through dementia with a loved one is hard - really hard.

I’m not sure anyone - in the beginning - says “Ah-ha! This is dementia and I know exactly what to do”.

So, we make mistakes. Hopefully, we learn from them and move on. Doing better.

LovesHerDad, your name says it all. Now - pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And just do the best you can.
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You accept that you didn't know the true situation, as probably many of us have done when misconstruing someone's actions or inactions. But you're aware now, so you can go forward with more confidence knowing that you've made changes in how you deal with him and how you handle situations that arise.

I always revert to the business method of changing - "mid-course corrections". Something's happened, assessment is made, and a new course of action is developed.

Think of how many businesses have had to change direction, and of those which haven't, and some of which have failed. The wonderful Borders chain was said to not have recognized the tech changes soon enough, thus failing to institute strategy changes. And eventually it closed.

Don't beat yourself up; I'm sure that many of us have, and it only compounds that anxiety, regret, self esteem and other factors that we need to rely on to go forward in challenging circumstances.

Now, go have a nice hot cup of tea, cider, hot chocolate, and be confident about yourself. And think how glad you are that you've discovered the real situation now, when you can approach life differently, than a few years down the road.
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Loves, I just want to add that I've been through the post-action or inaction self recrimination, first after my mother died, then my sister, and periodically while caring for my father. It usually happens when I'm especially stressed and trying to balance many conflicting but priority issues...such as needing to get out to my father's when I think he needs to go to the hospital, but my car is acting strangely and I can't afford a rental for a few days. Sure, there's EMS, but it's not the same for him, and I always go to the ER when he needs help. There's no one else who can or would do it, reliably.

Caregivers I think are going to face these kinds of situations periodically. I wish, and in regret (!), that I'd thought of a more logical and practical solution years ago.

This is why I try to turn the situation into a business-like situation; I can think more rationally. So I hope this helps you.
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Thanks so much for your kind responses. When I get to feeling guilty I remember all the good things I'm doing and remember it's never too late to change!
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LovesHerDad -

You've been there for him and taken care of him, and even after getting frustrated at times you haven't given up on him or stopped caring for him. Give yourself credit for that, because he clearly does.

I love the quote from Oprah above - when you know better, you do better. You'll be more patient now that you understand more, and that's all you can ask of yourself.
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Paul says, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ," Philippians 3:13-14, KJV. I immediately thought of those verses when I read everyone's responses. We might not all have Paul's goal, but if a guy with his background can forget and move on, we as caretakers can sure do the same.
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Your dad is lucky to have you in his corner. You care enough to learn and change. They don't teach,yet, in school how to be an Altzheimer's caregiver. Keep coming to this site. So many people in your situation ,ask questions, many experienced handson caregivers on this site. Dementia is cruel to the loved one and the family. This is a good place to ventilate and get dementia care info.
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