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Can Grief Make Dementia Worse

When Grief Becomes A Cycle

Is your loved one with dementia slipping away? Here’s how to cope with loss & grief

Many people aspire to finish grieving and move on with their lives in a healthy way. But some may find this is harder than expected. It is possible for grief to become a cycle. Sometimes memories of loss or of a lost loved one may light up the reward receptors in the brain. This means that moving on or letting go can be much more difficult. Those memories and the grieving process can feed into an addictive feeling.

A cycle of grief can take a toll on a persons physical and mental health. Continuing the grieving process for a long period of time means a persons risk for long-term health problems is increased. What could have been a short-term symptomchest pain, stomach aches, or sleep problems, for examplecan manifest in much more serious ways. These could include heart disease, eating disorders, or chronic fatigue.

Grief Over Losing A Spouse Or Beginning Dementia

msg# 1 Not sure of this subject, but I couldn’t find any info anywhere else. My mom died about 8 months ago, my dad is 83, decent health, but his grief is substantial. Recently, I have noticed forgetfulness, also he says he “talks” with my mom, which I understand, I also am a widow, however, he says when he does he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t talk back. He knows she is gone, this bothers me. any thots? Posted on 2008/9/22 19:24

Posted on 2008/9/29 16:19
msg# 1.1.1
Thank you for your response. I was home , this weekend, noting that Dad, again, was confused. However, he reverts back to “normalcy”. He mourns the loss of my mother, and his two sons do nothing to help ie: see him, talk to him, and he says now I have lost my boys. I have talked to both brothers, and they just get angry with me and do less, if that is possible. I encourage Dad to get out, to talk to people, to go to church. He does not want to do these things. He has had a check up at the doctor’s office, the doc put him on Xanax.. a small dosage and mg. to help him through this grief. I am concerned about the confusion, and the enormous amount of grief, however, I did lose my husband 7 years ago and I do remember how terrible the grief was. I thank you for your response it was most helpful to me.

How Are Depression And Dementia Related

As we work to unravel the mysteries of Alzheimers disease and other dementias, one of the more interesting areas of research is depression and its connection to dementia. It appears that depression impacts people living with dementia in at least two different ways. First, individuals who have had significant depression in their lives may be at greater risk for developing dementia. Second, many people living with dementia have depression left untreated it makes confusion and forgetfulness worse, damaging quality of life.

Lets discuss both these aspects of depression and dementia.

A number of studies have suggested that there is a link between depression and dementia. It now appears that individuals with long histories of clinical depression have a greater risk for developing dementia.

Its important to note that a risk factor is something that is likely to increase the chances that a particular event will occur. Having a risk factor for Alzheimers disease doesnt mean that you will ever get Alzheimers disease many people with histories of depression never get dementia.

What should an individual do if he or she has depression, particularly at a younger age? Common approaches include medicines and talk therapy. Many people with depression benefit from increased activity and socialization, including things like exercise, meditation, time with children and activities involving pets.


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Managing Memory Changes In Dementia

  • avoiding stressful situations providing emotional support, reducing background noise and distractions, and exercise can all help to reduce stress and improve memory
  • maintaining a regular routine keeping to a routine can help with a sense of security and reduce confusion
  • trying memory aids using memory aids like lists, diaries and clear written instructions, can help if the person with dementia is happy to use them.

Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:

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  • MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
  • KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.


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Coping With A Dementia Diagnosis Tip : Reach Out To Others

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can leave you feeling isolated and alone. You may feel cut off from friends and family who arent able to fully understand what youre going through. You may retreat into your shell for fear of being a burden to others. Or you may even worry about how your relationships could change once people learn you have dementia. While these worries are natural, theyre not a reason to isolate yourself. At this difficult time, the love and support of others can have a huge impact on your mood and outlook.

Living with Alzheimers or another dementia is not easy, but there is help for this journey. Dont wait for others to offer support be proactive and reach out. The more support you have, the better youll be able to cope with symptoms and continue to enrich your life.

Stay connected with family and friends. Maintaining your closest relationships and continuing to enjoy social activities can make a world of difference to your health and attitude. As we age, retirement, relocation, and the loss of loved ones can often shrink our social networks, but its never too late to build new, meaningful friendships.

Seek spiritual counsel. Religious leaders can offer real comfort to believers, as well as ongoing social contact. Even people who do not regularly attend religious services may look towards religion following a diagnosis of dementia. If youre not religious, you may prefer to speak to a therapist or counselor.

My Experience With Dementia And Grief

My struggle with this dilemma began when my father started receiving hospice care. At this point in my caregiving journey, both my parents had dementia and shared a room in a nursing home. For many years, they had lived in their own private rooms on the same floor, but the end was near for both of them. We felt they needed to be together during this time, and their money was nearly gone from the expense of two nursing home rooms.

At first, I did not want Mom to know that Dad was going on hospice care since I knew shed immediately think death. This correlation is what most people focus on, even though hospice services are a blessing for ailing loved ones and their families. However, I knew this news would be traumatic for Mom, who was already suffering from a great deal of physical pain and the effects of dementia. I wanted to spare her even more anguish.

The hospice staff kindly but firmly rejected my plan. Their chaplain handled informing Mom of the change to Dads care plan, and she was included in the services they offered. Of course, they were right to do this. It was painful for everyone involved, but these wonderful people walked us through each step.

I continued to talk Mom through it daily, since she kept forgetting that Dad was on hospice. Eventually, though, it did not matter. She just couldnt retain the information. Fortunately, she didnt dwell on the connotation with death, and she loved the extra attention she and Dad received from the hospice care team.

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It’s Never Too Late To Work On Improving Brain Health

Sometimes, people feel that after a love one receives a diagnosis of dementia, it’s too late to do anything about it. Part of that response may be related to the normal grieving process after a diagnosis, but many caregivers have expressed that they really didn’t know that brain health strategies can truly make a difference in functioning, whether cognition is normal or already declining.

Instead, remember that while true dementia won’t go away and generally is progressive, there are still a lot of strategies that can be used to maintain and even improve brain health and functioning for a time in dementia. Physical exercise, mental activity, and meaningful activities can go a long way toward maintaining functioning and providing purpose in daily life.

What Should I Do

Stop this and stop some dementia caregiver suffering

Its a good idea to speak to your GP or another healthcare professional, especially if youre feeling very anxious about your health. They can check for any underlying problems and help you get support, if you need it.

Telling them that you think it could be related to grief can help them to understand what youre experiencing and work out the best way to support you.

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Things About Dementia People Wish They’d Known Earlier

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” or “Ignorance is bliss.” While that may be true some of the time, it’s often not accurate when coping with dementia. Having worked with thousands of people impacted by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, I can testify to the fact that there are definitely things that, as caregivers, they wish they would have known earlier about dementia. Here they are.

Memory Loss And Dementia

  • events the person may forget part or all of an event
  • words or names the person progressively forgets words and names of people and things
  • stories on TV, in movies or books the person progressively loses the ability to follow stories
  • stored knowledge over time, the person loses known information such as historical or political information
  • everyday skills the person progressively loses the capacity to perform tasks such as dressing and cooking.

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Pick And Choose Your Priorities And Let The Rest Go

Some people have said that dementia picks and chooses its own battles. However, others have shared that initially, they tried to “do everything right,” but as time went on, they learned that letting go of some of these pressures and expectations saved their own sanity and reduced their frustration.

Instead of focusing on meeting your own expectations and that of those around you, change your focus to what’s important at the moment. You will rarely go wrong if you ask yourself if the momentary challenge will be important in a month from now, or not, and proceed accordingly.

Grieving Dont Overlook Potential Side Effects

Can Grief Exacerbate Dementia

Nothing quite prepares you for the heartache of profound loss. It settles in like a gloomy thrum sometimes louder, sometimes softer with a volume switch you cant entirely shut off.

For me, that heartbreak arrived this past October, when my mother died after a long battle with Parkinsons disease, dementia, and disability. Now, for the first time in my life, Im experiencing real grief. As a health reporter, I know this emotional experience comes with the risk for physical side effects. Most of these side effects are the result of emotional distress responses, explains Dr. Maureen Malin, a geriatric psychiatrist with Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.

Whether youre grieving the loss of a loved one, like I am, or the loss of a job, a home, or a beloved pet, its important to understand how the process puts your health in jeopardy.

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Watch Out For Negative Behaviors

Isolation generates feelings of loneliness and depression that seniors may try to mask with negative behaviors such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Both of these behaviors restrict blood flow to the brain, which further increases the risk of developing dementia symptoms. If your loved one spends a large part of the day alone, watch for signs of unhealthy habits so you can help him or her connect with other people who dissipate feelings of loneliness.

Tips For Managing Dementia End

Because individuals with advanced dementia will often have difficulty communicating, it is important that caregivers keep a close eye on their loved one for signs of pain or discomfort. These signs may include moaning or yelling, restlessness or an inability to sleep, grimacing, or sweating. This may also signal that its time to call hospice or a palliative care team to help with the pain management.

If an individual with end-stage dementia is having trouble sitting up without assistance, hospice can provide a hospital bed or other equipment to lift their head.

Perhaps the hardest thing for families is when a loved one with dementia is no longer able to eat or swallow. Because an individual with dementia is unable to understand the benefits of feeding tubes or IV drips, they will often be incredibly distressed and attempt to remove them, causing added pain and risk of infection. Instead, focusing on keeping the individual comfortable. Supporting them with mouth care to prevent their mouth from becoming dry will allow them to make their final transition in peace.

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Picking Up The Pieces

It may seem impossible to think about maintaining good health when its difficult to simply get through each day. But Dr. Malin says its okay to just go through the motions at first .

  • That may mean walking for five minutes every day, and then gradually increasing the amount of time you walk.
  • And even if you dont feel like eating, go ahead and eat three healthy meals per day anyway. Your body needs calories to function, even if youre not hungry. Eating too little may add to fatigue.
  • And dont forget about social connections, which are crucial to good health. Stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Try to get out of your house and spend time with others, even if its to talk about your grief.

Choose One Small Thing To Do For Yourself

What is dementia? Alzheimer’s Research UK

The risk of caregiver burnout is real. Caregivers don’t need to feel guilty or frustrated because they don’t have time or energy to exercise, smile, eat right, and get lots of sleep. Most caregivers are well aware these are things they should do but just don’t have the time. The last thing they need is another list of things they should be doing.

Instead, what caregivers need to remember is that doing even one little thing for themselves is important and beneficial. You may not have time to do the big things, but finding little ways to refill your tank of caregiver energy is critically important.

Practical ideas from dementia caregivers who have been there include a 30-minute visit from a friend, 20 minutes of quiet time where you read a religious passage or listen to your favorite music, 10 minutes to drink your favorite flavored coffee, five minutes of locking yourself in your room to physically stretch your body or call a family member who will understand, and 10 seconds of taking a deep, deep breath and let it out slowly.

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How To Help Someone In Grief This Holiday Season

  • Behaviorally change your patterns. If you have fallen into bad patterns, you obviously want to change them. Pushing against your anxiety-driven behaviors can help you feel more in control and stop the negative cycle.
  • Consider therapy. Finally, because all this is difficult and is often tied to other core issues, this is a good time to consult with a therapist, even for a short stint of therapy to both challenge and support you. Grief is about you and your relationships with others, and it helps to have others help you with your grief.

While emotionally painful, the natural grieving process helps us heal. If you got stuck along the way for whatever reason, help yourself to complete the process.

What Are Grief Loss And Bereavement

Most people who are close to someone with dementia will experience grief, loss or bereavement. This is because dementia is progressive and life-shortening. There will be lots of changes to adjust to and this can be extremely difficult.

These feelings can be very strong, and can be even harder to cope with than the practical aspects of caring. Try to remember that you are not alone. Its very important to ask for help if you need it. Support is available from many services.

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Alzheimer’s Onset Linked To Signs Of Stress Grief And Sorrow

Hypertension, diabetes, advanced age or a mentally and physically inactive lifestyle are known to increase an individuals risk of developing Alzheimers disease, the most prevalent form of dementia in the world. Now, researchers in Argentina say that stress may possibly trigger the disease.

The study, conducted by Dr Edgardo Reich, was presented at the 22nd Meeting of the European Neurological Society in Prague.

4.7 million people in Europe were suffering from Alzheimers in the year 2000 and this figure is expected to increase to 8 million by the year 2030 and to 12 million by the year 2050.

Dr Reich explained:

It is true, of course, that more people are affected because more people reach old age. But you do not necessarily get Alzheimers because youre over 80. Clearly, its appearance and course are not only dependent on biological determinants. Environmental factors such as stress may play a role.

In order to determine whether the onset of Alzheimers disease is associated with stressful life events, Dr. Reich and his team examined 107 patients who had been diagnosed as possibly having Alzheimers disease in a mild to moderate stage. The average age of study participants was 72 years old.

The team compared the Alzheimers patients to a control group of healthy individuals. The researchers asked participants in both groups whether they experienced particular stresses and strains in the three years before they were diagnosed.

Dr Reich said:

The researchers found:


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