Being a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer's disease can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You may find yourself needing to say "no" more often than you did before you became a caregiver. Do you have a tough time being direct with others about how much free time you have? It's not unusual to feel awkward when turning down a request or an invitation. You may feel torn between the other person's need and the needs of the person you care for.
Using "I" statements can help put you back in the driver's seat of the situation. An "I" statement directly communicates your feelings and sets a clear boundary, allowing you to focus on caring for yourself and managing your loved one's Alzheimer's-related symptoms like sundowning confusion or memory loss. For instance:
I don't feel like going.
I'd rather do something else instead.
I can't do it this week.
If I attend that event, the person I care for will be impacted.
At first, you may feel vulnerable about using direct "I" statements when saying no. Your true feelings are exposed, and you may be judged for using caregiving as an excuse. "I" statements can also be freeing! You don't need to pretend or tell a white lie. It's ok to communicate directly about what you need.
Using an "I" statement is a way of taking responsibility for your feelings. You are not blaming or accusing the other person. You are being honest about your situation and making sure it is recognized.
Members of myALZteam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:
"Is it ok to feel like I can't do this anymore? Today is one of those days for me."
"Friends and family are encouraging me to take a vacation - just a long weekend to get away. I just want time on my own without the responsibility of caring for my parents."
"How do I keep my personality, my dignity, my person, whatever you want to call it? I feel that I am the one who is disappearing."
Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on myALZteam.