It is normal to experience grief when one of your parents is no longer the person you’ve always known and loved.
They are physically present but psychologically gone. You have all but lost them. You still love them, but deeply miss the person they used to be and are aware that their days may be numbered.
Role Reversal and Caring for Your Parent
As the Alzheimer’s advances, you will notice the roles of parent and child shift. You become the caregiver as your parent reverts to a childlike state. They require a great deal of care and attention. While your parents likely found joy in caring for you from infancy, when the role is reversed, it is a much different story. The loss and grief that a child experiences as a caregiver make it a very difficult time, emotionally.
Role reversal can be downright exhausting, but it can help to stay open to developing a new type of relationship with your mom or dad. Remember, the person with dementia is likely experiencing their own grief as they cope with losing their memory, no longer able to form proper words or do things for themselves. A person that has been independent for decades is now being forced back to dependency and the last person they usually want to inconvenience is their child!
Types of Loss and Grief You May Experience When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
The kind of loss or grief you experience will depend on the stage of dementia your loved one is in. The two most common types of loss that caregivers experience are ambiguous loss and anticipatory grief.
Caregivers may experience ambiguous loss when their loved one is still physically present, but are no longer the person that they used to be. It is common to look back on the past and grieve the relationship you used to have with your loved one.
Anticipatory Grief occurs when a caregiver experiences grief in anticipation of the loss of their loved one to the disease.
Managing Your Grief
It is critical to find ways to manage your grief. Understand that your feelings are valid and give yourself permission to grieve. Burying these feelings can lead to added stress and even depression.
Developing a better understanding of Alzheimer’s can help alleviate any feelings of anger or frustration and help you create a new relationship paradigm.
Connect with others that you can relate to while coping with your grief. There are a number of support groups both online and off. You may also want to consider seeing a professional counselor. Don’t discredit what you’re going through. These are real, difficult emotions that even the strongest of people struggle with.
Simplify the Process
It’s okay to grieve for and miss the person that raised you. At Unlimited Care Cottages, we see this pain on a regular basis. The care and compassion we provide our residents extends to their family as well. We have recently opened our first Certified Alzheimer’s Cottage, a secure environment with a high level of specialized memory care for those suffering from dementia.
We are Here to Help
Having a parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s is painful. Their care doesn’t have to be a burden. Contact us today to learn more about our cottages and how we can help you during this new stage of your relationship with your loved one.