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Caring for a loved one with dementia, unfortunately, involves watching your loved one slowly decline. This process can be frustrating because, although you want to do everything you can to slow the progression of the disease or stop the disease from spreading, there is nothing you can do. Learn to be in the moment with your loved one and cherish each moment you have with him or her.
The journey of caring for someone with dementia is a difficult one, and the grieving process will be different for each person. Those who have lost someone to dementia will tell you that the grief is as disordered as the progression of the disease itself. Losing a person to a heart attack, for example, can result in loved ones experiencing the classic pattern of grief with well-studied stages:
A caregiver who has lost someone to dementia may have already been through depression and acceptance while their loved one was alive, making grieving a more complicated process.
Grief counselors say the stages of grief form a structure of sorts that help us come to grips with the fact that we have lost someone we love. The journey through these stages helps us move forward and learn to live without them. Each person progresses through the stages differently and at different times, but all of that can change drastically after losing a loved one to dementia.
Dementia involves a continuous sense of loss
Losing a loved one to dementia is more complicated because it is a long, slow journey with multiple losses along the way. The cognitive losses associated with dementia often force caregivers to grieve losing pieces of their loved one on a daily basis.
When death finally comes, the caregiver may experience a sense of relief. However, the relief may also be accompanied by a deep sense of guilt.
These are just some of the reasons why the grief associated with losing a loved one to dementia is confusing and complicated. Here are some ways that dementia caregivers can overcome the grief associated with watching a loved one’s slow decline:
Caring for someone with dementia is difficult and so is grieving for them. Although it is a cliche, the best strategy to follow is taking one day at a time. Be good to yourself, remember the happy moments you had with your loved one and know that grief will subside with time.
1: Alzheimers and Dementia Support Group