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How Can We Minimize Grief for a Surviving Spouse Living with Dementia?

GriefCredittim-doerfler-591849-unsplashPhoto credit Tim Doerfler

Deciding whether to tell someone who is cognitively impaired that their spouse has died is a serious and often recurring struggle. Dementia and death are sad and challenging enough on their own, but when they coincide, the result can be truly heartbreaking. For someone who has never experienced the challenges of caring for someone with dementia, decisions about telling the truth may seem like a no-brainer. However, as with many dementia-related quandaries, the question and answer are far more complex for those facing this reality. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this painful situation. In all my years of caring for seniors and interacting with other family caregivers, I’ve learned a great deal from my own experiences and others’ caregiving journeys. Keep in mind that the “right” approach depends on a few different factors and will often vary from day to day. 

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 she’d immediately think “death.” This correlation is what most people focus on...

Continue reading on Agingcare for more about how we can decide how much information to relate to someone living with dementia:

Support a caregiver or jump-start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol  

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