I recently posted an article about overcoming denial when a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer's. As a follow-up to that, today's post discusses the difference between realizing someone has Alzheimer's and accepting that fact. It's one thing to finally overcome denial and realize someone close to you has Alzheimer's. It's a completely different thing to accept it.
After what can be months or even years of being in denial, most people finally realize Alzheimer's has struck. But many people never really come to accept the situation. Some caregivers never come to terms with it. Some never become at peace with the diagnosis and all that it means. Some caregivers are never "okay with it." They know it in their brains, but as hard as they try, they can't accept it in their hearts.
We can get caught up in a trap. The bold truth is so painful we can push it to the back of our minds.
In order to come to terms with Alzheimer's in a loved one we must first let go. We must let go of the previous person and embrace the new one -- just as he or she is in the present. And since that person will continue changing as time goes by, we must constantly let go of the old one and accept the new one. The old one is never coming back.
Marie and Ed in Love Again
This is what it means to accept and make peace with Alzheimer's in a person you dearly love. Learn to let go and try to learn to love again.
You can read more about this in my book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy, and on my website, which also contains a wealth of caregiving advice.
Note: A slightly different version of this post was published on the Alzheimer's Reading Room.