When a loved one has dementia, you go through stages of acceptance.
At first, you explain away the changes in their problem solving, judgment and memory. When you’re hit with the reality that this isn’t normal, this is serious, you might feel angry and cheated, along with the sadness of losing them as “they used to be.”
The changes with dementia often go in steps: a loss of function is followed by a plateau, and eventually, there’s a greater loss of function and another plateau. With each step down, you feel a wave of grief all over again. You adjust to the current level of functioning, make suitable care arrangements, and you float along until there’s another step down, another wave of grief, another adjustment.
Clients ask me what’s wrong with them; they thought they had accepted the diagnosis, and here they are again, flattened by the sadness of it.
There’s nothing wrong — these waves of grief with each step down in function are normal. It’s a long and difficult process.
Dr. Jankovich has been working as a psychologist since 1974. She works with a range of areas, including relationships, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, grief, trauma, and struggles with life transitions.