beyond the video

The Roller Coaster Ride of Emotions for the Caregiver—Daughter and Mother

A daughter describes the range of emotions she experiences in caring for her mother.



Video summary
When we first meet the caregiver in this video, she is open about the anger and resentment she feels toward her mother with Alzheimer's disease. The onscreen expert, Daniel Kuhn, MSW, says that anger is virtually unavoidable when faced with a terrible disease, and it's unrealistic to say, "I shouldn't feel this way." At the same time it can - and needs to be - worked through. It may help to share your feelings with a non-judgmental friend or a support group; figure out what works for you.

Dan goes on to say that acceptance comes in waves. We may not realize we are making progress in overcoming negative emotions, but we need to celebrate our small achievements. By the end of the video, the caregiver feels a bit more confident. She says that she is more respectful of her mother's feelings and her mother is laughing more. She doesn't promise not to become angry again, but is taking things "a day at a time."

Applying the video to your own situation
Think about what was expressed in this video that you have felt, too.

  • At the outset, the caregiver says that she cannot always bring herself to kiss her mother on the lips as the sign of love her mother craves. Some-times what seems like a small gesture takes on greater significance, and we rebel against giving in. Have you ever had a similar experience?
  • The caregiver says that she is angry that her life is not going the way she wanted it to through no fault of her own. "It's been short-circuited." Can you relate to her feelings?
  • The caregiver also says that she once had the feeling of hating a particular situation, and had the follow-up thought: Was it possible that she hated her mother? When we are stressed, we may have thoughts that would be unthinkable in normal situations. That's a sign that we need a way to share our burdens, and was part of what prompted her to seek caregiving advice.
  • When she has lost her temper, the caregiver says, she is full of self-reproach, and vows to be better, but has found sometimes, that a few hours later she will say mean things all over again. Since not one of us is perfect, that's not entirely surprising, but it's also a sign that we are over-stretched and need additional help. An empty bag can't stand up. If you're having similar experiences, think about how you can get some relief.
  • If you have been in this role for awhile, do you see little signs of progress in yourself in overcoming some of your negative emotions? Think about your successes and give yourself a pat on the back.
  • At the end, the caregiver says she is taking a day at a time. Do you think that's good advice? Is it easy to follow?

Adapted from: He's Doing This to Spite Me: Emotional Conflicts in Dementia Care; Northwest Media Inc., Eugene, OR

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Beyond the Video

By the end of the video, the caregiver feels a bit more confident. She says that she is more respectful of her mother's feelings and her mother is laughing more.