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Dementia Caregiving: Coping with Grief Challenges & Solutions

The experience of having a loved one suffer from dementia brings about a type of grief that does not go away throughout the person's illness. With dementia, we are caught up in a process of continuous loss, which occurs as our loved one's memories and their ability to recognize us slowly disappear. In this article, we will discuss what to expect and the ways of dealing with these challenges.

Understanding Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief or ambiguous loss is the mourning of your loved one before passing even occurs. It is grief that can occur when dementia takes over and causes immense sadness and can even lead to depression. It can be tiring and unbearable since the loss occurs gradually and with no break. That is why it is important to acknowledge your feelings during these moments.


Acknowledging Different Phases of Grief

Grief is not constant. It is an emotional rollercoaster that can be experienced by caregivers and family members. It can include these five stages:

  1. Denial: Hanging on to a thread of hope (claiming that the diagnosis can be proven wrong, …)
  2. Anger: It is common to feel anger as a response to the distress felt by the diagnosis or death.
  3. Guilt: Feeling guilty for any happiness experienced.
  4. Sadness: Isolated behavior or a tendency to seek solace in the company of friends.
  5. Acceptance: Finding value in the presence and acknowledging the fact that you can still be happy regardless of your current circumstance.

The stages of grief often get mixed up or even repeated which makes the struggle with the grieving process in dementia patients even more complicated.


Strategies for Coping


  • Educate Yourself: Knowing the basics of dementia may give you a different perspective on the disease.
  • Preserve Memories: Keep a connection with the past and rekindle old memories with your loved ones.
  • Acknowledge Your Grief: Be aware that the anticipatory grief is just as real and legitimate as the grief you feel after your loved one has passed away.
  • Seek Support: Interact with people going through the same experiences to make you feel at ease.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: It can help you deal with stress and burnout during caregiving activities.

The Role of Healthcare Professionals

It is essential to consider professional services at home to make sure that the patient is safe and comfortable while you get the needed break. They can make sure that the burden is not only on you.

Bereavement and Moving Forward

Grief can become more intense or it might provide some closure after the death of a close one. Friends and family members often experience a mixture of relief, guilt, and sadness. It’s necessary to acknowledge that support is there and that you are not the only one struggling with such feelings.

Taking care of a loved one with dementia is a journey which is filled with challenges and deep emotional experiences. It is important to acknowledge your feelings as well as the patient’s feelings.

Founded in 2008, Ezra Home Care offers live-in home care, 24-hour care, and hourly senior care.
All our caregivers are state-certified and provide services like personal carehousekeepingcompanionship, help with medication, and transportation assistance. We've spent 15 years refining our caregiver selection process to ensure families' peace of mind. Reach out for details and quotes.

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