Reflecting on the past decade of caregiving I realise that one experiences emotional states similar to mourning. The strong spouse, the loving mother, et al -seem to have been replaced by barely recognisable strangers. Kübler -Ross enumerates five stages of mourning following the loss of a loved one. These are highlighted below.
Once the dread diagnosis comes in there is Denial. Surely this cannot be be happening!- is the thought that haunts us.
Facing up to the ravage wrought by the disease one feels Anger at the life situation one finds oneself in.
Yet hope is not extinct- one sets to Bargaining - with the Gods, different therapies (Not always proven nor even harmless), etc.
Realising that the disease is increasingly debilitating and progressive - one might feel Depressed.
Acceptance of the inevitable occurs eventually. In these days of increased longevity it is not uncommon to meet others in the same predicament. Trying to live in the here and now and keeping the loved one as comfortable as possible seem the only option.
It has been rightly said caring for one with dementia is like bidding a Long Goodbye (even if the caregiver goes first!)
But like everything else it is not an entirely negative experience. One realises how fragile our mind /body complex is and is grateful that as of now one is cognitively alert enough take care of others.
Observing different people I noticed that however altered the person may become, some of the basic character traits do not change. A gentle person may just seem duller, an aggressive person becomes irrationally demanding or paranoid, etc. This serves as a warning that we should consciously cultivate equanimity, kindness and other habits which will sustain us and others if and when (God forbid) we ourselves become helpless or dependent.