During World Alzheimer’s Month, Springpoint at Home wants to recognize and validate that caring for someone with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers.
Many of our emotions during caregiving – anger, resentment, frustration, etc. – are often fueled by an underlying grief which is never named. Anger with our loved ones who ask the same questions repeatedly can cover up the grief we feel because they are losing more and more of their everyday world. Resentment because every two hours you must take them to the bathroom often conceals our grief when our elder can no longer navigate their own home. Frustration that we can’t go anywhere without extra planning hides our grief about how much life has changed.
We recognize that a dementia diagnosis is the start of the long goodbye, which is felt by many dementia caregivers. It is also the beginning of two types of grief that are not normally named: ambiguous loss/grief and anticipatory grief.
Ambiguous loss/grief is identified as the disappearance of a family member even as the person is still in your presence. The hardest part of caring for someone with a progressive brain disease is that they disappear in front of your eyes while still physically present. Because your person is still physically present, this grief is not recognized by society in the same way as that of a death, which can leave you feeling isolated and depressed.
Anticipatory grief is beginning with the recognition that you are facing a coming loss. For many dementia family caregivers, this is the loss of your dreams for retirement, your place in the world as a couple or the parent/child relationship, and even the loss of financial stability.
Once you recognize grief, you can name it. When we identify our feelings, we can move forward in a different way – with compassion, acceptance, and support. In this moving forward, we can live in the moment with our elder and know that is where the joy is found.
Our Aging Life Care Advisor™/ Care Management team can help you understand these two types of grief and help you find resources to navigate this part of the caregiving journey. Our Certified Home Health Aides (CHHAs) will support your elder in their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and can help with tasks in the home so that family caregivers can find breathing space and respite. We are here to help.
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