Supporting a Person With Alzheimer’s During a Bereavement
Supporting a partner, friend, or family member with Alzheimer’s Disease is hard enough. It can be even more challenging when caregivers are faced with the task of supporting someone with Alzheimer’s Disease through bereavement. If someone you love with Alzheimer’s loses someone, there are ways you can help them to manage their dementia while going through the stages of grief. For a few tips on how to best support a person with Alzheimer’s during bereavement and for places to get additional support, read on.
Reaching Out to Professionals
If you love someone with Alzheimer’s, you’ve probably done your share of Alzheimer research on the disease itself, ways you can support your loved one, symptoms, types of dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, and more. Odds are that you’ve reached out to professionals for scientific advice, treatment plan decisions, and even the grief that comes with such a devastating diagnosis. When you love someone with Alzheimer’s who’s lost someone, it’s best to apply the same diligence to getting the help you and they need.
When the person you love with Alzheimer’s Disease loses a partner, spouse, family member, caregiver, or friend, they hurt the same way anyone would. Only their emotions can be more complicated as they work to navigate between emotions and symptoms of their disease. Some people might be confused, have trouble accepting a death, or even forget that they’ve lost someone, only to remember again when they’re more lucid. Because of this, it’s a good idea o talk to your loved one’s healthcare team about resources like therapists and support groups that can help. You’ll be able to get tools to support your loved one with these unusual circumstances as they process their grief.
Creating a Natural Support System for Tasks
Another way to help a bereaved someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, especially in the early stages, is to do what you can to help them to identify supports and assign tasks. For example, if your mother just lost her husband but doesn’t know where to start when it comes to making funeral services decisions or looking up things like Google searches for “crematorium near me,” asking a group of family members or friends for help is a great way to help on a practical level. When possible, have a conversation with the person you love about other people in their world who can help with decision making, tasks, and more.
Quality Time and Self-Care
When anyone’s grieving, the importance of self-care can’t be underestimated. This holds particularly true for someone with dementia. Support the person you love by making sure they’re keeping up with sleep, exercise, medications, and doctor’s appointments. Spend time with the bereaved person and do what you can to make the little moments away from sadness count. Sometimes, just being there is enough.
Try to remember that there are other ways to help, too. For example, helping the person you love to identify activities and interests to keep them busy and distracted is a good way to make the hard days a little easier. At the end of the day, everyone’s time of grief is different. Going out of your way to be sure the person you love can have a private viewing, has extra compassion in their time of need, and even has professional support are just a few ways you can help someone you love with Alzheimer’s deal with a loss. As you look out for your loved one, be sure to look out for yourself, too. The reality is that caregivers often forget to take care of themselves as they support a person with Alzheimer’s. The better care you take of yourself, the better you’ll be able to support your family member through their bereavement. Condolences on your loss and best of luck to you and your family as you work through the grieving process.