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It is common for caregivers to have feelings of loss and grief as their life is changed by Alzheimer’s. You are entitled to these emotions, even if you experience them soon after the diagnosis.

Feelings of Grief.

Alzheimer’s gradually takes away the person you know and love. As you mourn your loved one, you may experience the different phases of grieving: denial, anger, guilt, sadness, and acceptance. The stages of grief don’t happen neatly in order, and you might move in and out of the different stages as time goes on.

Ways to Cope with Grief and Loss.

Face your feelings — both positive and negative. These are healthy emotions. Know that it is common to feel conflicting emotions. It is okay to feel love and anger at the same time. Prepare to go through feelings of grief and loss again as dementia progresses. Accept and acknowledge your feelings, for they are a normal part of the grieving process. Claim the grieving process as your own. No two people experience grief the same way. Grief hits people at different times, and some people need more time to grieve than others.

Combat Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness.

Caregivers often give up enjoyable activities and companionship, so make a lunch or movie date with friends. Taking a break may help you relieve stress and strengthen your support network. Join a support group to share your emotions with other caregivers. Laugh and cry together. Do not limit conversations to just caregiving tips.

Take Care of Yourself.

The best thing you can do for the person you are caring for is to stay healthy. This includes taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Create balance in your life. Do the things that bring you joy and comfort, and give yourself time to rest. Ask for help when you need it and accept the help that is offered.

Bottom Line.

Know that some people may not understand your grief. They may not know that it is possible to grieve deeply for someone who has a progressive cognitive illness. Talk with someone you trust about your grief, guilt, or even anger. If your grief is so intense that your well-being is at risk, ask for help from your doctor or a professional counselor.


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