No matter what kind of health diagnosis your senior gets from her doctor, she might have some big feelings about it. Working through these feelings can take time and she might revisit some of them a few times before they’re fully resolved.
Shock and Denial
Sometimes a scary health diagnosis seems to come out of the blue. Your elderly family member might respond with shock and even denial. It’s not uncommon at all for people to insist that a doctor is wrong or that a second opinion is in order because of denial. A second opinion might be smart, but there’s still the practical aspect of dealing with the situation as it is rather than how she wishes it could be.
Your senior might be angry about her health situation. This might be especially true if your elderly family member has always paid attention to doing all the “right” things to remain healthy. She might even be angry at you for making her go to the doctor about her symptoms. If she can work through her anger, it’s usually related to the sense of loss she feels.
Grief is a common emotion when your senior gets a scary diagnosis because she experiences her new health issue as a loss. She’s lost her good health and a future that she imagined one particular way. She can still have much of what she wanted for her future, especially with support from you and from other support systems.
Your elderly family member might be afraid of what this means. Especially in the beginning of your time as a caregiver your elderly family member might fear that you’re not going to be there the way that she needs you to be. It can take some time and some reassurance to convince her that you’re going to be there for her.
Lots of times people deep down suspect that something is wrong or that there’s an issue, but fear can keep them from saying much about it. After a diagnosis, though, your elderly family member at least knows what she’s up against. Even if this diagnosis means that she needs to make some big changes, she might feel relieved that she has an answer now.
Some of these feelings might come and go as your elderly family member’s health changes. It can be really difficult to manage her emotions along with your own feelings, too. Elderly care providers can help both of you to deal with the practicalities of her health issues while you balance everything else.