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Coping with Grief: Support for Families After a Dementia Diagnosis

Coping with Grief: Support for Families After a Dementia Diagnosis

Contrary to popular belief, “dementia” is not a disease but rather an umbrella term for memory loss and other cognitive issues that significantly impact daily life. To diagnose someone with dementia, doctors evaluate an individual’s comprehensive medical history, conduct a physical exam, and may also run neuropsychological and cognitive tests, a neurological evaluation, blood tests, and brain scans to examine brain activity. Family members, caregivers, and others might also be interviewed about possible symptoms. 

After a dementia diagnosis, the question becomes how to deal with a family member with dementia both in the short term and the long term. It’s essential to recognize the breadth of emotions that might occur for all family members involved. Many families understandably experience grief at some level. Thankfully, there are many support systems available to help families navigate the complexities of dementia and dementia care.

Suppose your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, and you are looking for resources to help your family cope with the grief associated with that diagnosis. The following article briefly describes some resources that can help you figure out this new way of life. We will also cover how memory care communities like BridgeWater Assisted Living provide physical, emotional, and cognitive support for those living with dementia. We can offer much-needed respite care for caregivers. 

Counseling Services

It is natural to experience some feelings of grief and loss when you or a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, but you do not have to process these emotions alone. Many mental health professionals, like psychologists, therapists, and licensed counselors, specialize in these areas and can work with individuals and families. 

Counseling and therapy provide a necessary outlet for navigating emotions, talking through feelings, and finding solace and comfort. Working through how you feel and how this affects your life is especially important in the early stages while you come to terms with a diagnosis of dementia. Your therapist can also help you develop coping strategies to support you in the long term.

A quick Google search can lead you to local mental health professionals in your area, or you can use other resources like the Center for Mental Health and Aging’s online directory to search for licensed mental health providers who specialize in working with seniors and their families.

Support Groups

One of the best resources to seek out is a support group. People thrive in relationships with others, and support groups foster that sense of community. Finding other individuals or families facing similar circumstances provides a safe place to process your emotions, ask questions, share experiences, and discuss challenges with others who understand. 

In addition to feeling connected to others and finding comfort, these groups are also great places to find practical advice, tips, and resources that can give your family the tools you need to work through challenges together. 

You can search for support groups near you on the Alzheimer’s Association website. Trained dementia professionals facilitate these groups. Both in-person and virtual groups are available for individuals living with dementia and for caregivers.

Education and Information

With any initial diagnosis, you can feel a certain amount of uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and grief about how you anticipate your life will change. Learning more about dementia can help reduce those feelings and empower families to anticipate changes and make better and more informed decisions about care. 

There are a wealth of educational resources to choose from. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to start. You can find educational programs and information on dementia and dementia care, including better communication methods, managing finances, lifestyle changes to keep your body and brain healthy, and much more. 

Memory Care

Some of the grief you might experience when deciding how to deal with a family member with dementia comes with trying to decide on the best care options for them, especially if you are not able to care for them full-time in your home or theirs. Fortunately, you have several options for dementia care, whether you choose in-home care services, a drop-in memory care community, or a long-term residential community.

Memory Care Services

Effective memory care services aim to support the whole person, addressing physical, mental, and emotional needs. Exercise programs, help with nutritious meals, social activities, housekeeping services, and cognitive therapy are all potential areas of support for you and your family. When you know your loved one is in a safe and supportive environment, you can have peace of mind that you provide them with what they need to thrive. 

Respite Care Services

Many dementia caregivers overlook the importance of self-care and respite care. However, taking time to care for your own needs helps alleviate stress and prevent burnout. A healthy and well-supported caregiver can better provide the best possible care. 

Respite care is temporary or short-term care provided by trained professionals to take your place while you attend to your own needs. You can work with an in-home care provider who comes in on a regular basis or look into longer-term respite care options at assisted living and memory care communities. 

One of the benefits of respite care in an assisted living community is that your loved one will have access to all the services and amenities available to the other residents and to professional staff who receive additional training in dementia care.

If you and your family are currently trying to figure out the best path forward with a family member with dementia, BridgeWater Assisted Living would like to come alongside to assist you. Our residential memory care communities focus on empowering our residents to live well through art, music, exercise, active social community, mindfulness, cognitive therapy, delicious dining options, and more. If you’re not interested in long-term residential care, we encourage you to consider our respite care options as well. 

Contact us today to schedule a tour or find out more about what we have to offer your family. You’re not in this alone.