Dementia and end-of-life care
Moving on with your life may not be easy; how each person copes with the changes and emotions varies from individual to individual. Even if you feel you are coping well, there may still be times when you get upset. Give yourself time and do not try to go through this process alone.
Where to get support
- Bereavement services provide a number of services including counselling, support groups and informational sessions on topics such as coping strategies.
- Family support groups help you share your feelings with others who have experienced similar losses. A support group gives you an opportunity to share your own experiences and help you manage stress and feel less isolated.
- Turn to friends and family and accept the assistance that is offered. Often people want to help but don`t know how, so tell them what you need –whether it`s helping out with funeral arrangements or lending a shoulder to cry on.
- The Alzheimer Society is there to help – contact your local Alzheimer Society
- Private grief counselling may help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving. Not everyone is comfortable participating in a group. Sometimes, talking one-on-one can be helpful.
- You may draw comfort from spiritual guidance.
Tips for coping with your grief
- Keep a journal. A journal is a private place where anything can be written including unfulfilled wishes, guilt, anger and any other thoughts and feelings. A journal is a place where you can explore your frustrations and express your thoughts and ideas without interruption.
- Express your feelings in a creative way by drawing, painting, making a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life, or crafting some other form of artwork.
- Cry. Tears can be therapeutic. Let them cleanse and relieve the pain inside. Relieve tension through shouting or punching a cushion.
- Learn to laugh again. Rediscover your sense of humour. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or spend time with a friend who makes you laugh. Finding joy in life can be one way of honouring the happy times you used to share with the person with dementia.
- Plan ahead for possible 'triggers' such as holidays or anniversaries by talking to the people in your supportive network. Ask them for support or help in ways to honour the person.
- Find comfort. Different people have different ways of finding comfort. For many there is comfort in rituals, such as prayer, meditation or other activities.
- Remember that it is okay to express your feelings. Unresolved grief can lead to complications such as depression, anxiety or other health problems.
- Do not push yourself to overcome your emotions. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve; each person`s grief is unique to them.
- Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself and your feelings. Find a balance between the happy and sad person, the angry and peaceful, and the guilty and glad self.
- Take it one day at a time, respecting your needs and limitations.
Next section: Compassionate care benefits