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Beacon of HOPE Wellness Committee: Grief and loss as Alzheimer’s progresses

February 6, 2019
By Kathy Schwarzhoff-Dutko , Pine Island Eagle

It is common for caregivers to have feelings of loss and grief as their life is changed by Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. It is also normal to feel guilty, abandoned and angry. You're entitled to these emotions and may start to experience them as soon as you learn of the diagnosis. Share your feelings and seek support as you go through this process.

Some common experiences in the grieving process include:

n Denial: Hoping that the person is not ill. Expecting the person to get better. Convincing yourself the person has not changed. Attempting to normalize problematic behaviors.

n Anger: Being frustrated at the person. Resenting the demands of caregiving. Resenting family members who cannot or will not help provide care. Feeling abandoned.

n Guilt: Having unrealistic expectations, "I must do everything for him/her." Feeling bad because you can still enjoy life. Having negative thoughts about the person.

n Sadness: Feeling overwhelmed. Crying frequently. Withdrawing from social activities.

n Acceptance: Learning to live in the moment. Finding personal meaning in caring for someone who is terminally ill. Appreciating the personal growth that comes from surviving loss. Finding your sense of humor. Understanding how the grieving process affects your life.

Next month we will review ways to cope with grief and loss. In the meantime, if you are experiencing any of the above emotions, understand that everyone grieves differently and at their own pace including you! If your grief is so intense that your well-being is at risk, ask for help from your doctor or a professional counselor.

The Alzheimer's Association Helpline is available 24 hours at 800-272-3900.

If you are a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia, consider joining the support group here on Pine Island brought to you by the Beacon of HOPE and the Alzheimer's Association. The group meets every third Monday at 10 a.m. at the Beacon, 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St James City. The next meeting is Feb. 18. Contact the Beacon of Hope at 239-283-5123 or just walk-in.



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