Alzheimer's Caregivers' #1 Challenge
Last updated:March 11, 2008
For all the emphasis on the practical difficulties of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, an enlightening new study reports that daily care isn’t the worst of it: Grief is.That may not come as a surprise if you’re in the trenches. But it does shed light on an under-served aspect of care-giving--the emotional toll. University of Indianapolis researchers asked more than 400 caregivers the open-ended question: “What would you say is the biggest barrier you have faced as a caregiver?” More than 80 percent referred to the loss of the person they used to know.Alzheimer’s care-giving is especially painful because we experience two hard psychological states at once:1. “Anticipatory grief”: the pain of losing a loved one, felt in advance of the person’s death (a common phenomenon with the terminally ill).2. "Ambiguous loss”: interacting with someone who’s not fully present socially or psychologically.That’s a tough mix. Little wonder a separate long-term study last fall found that counseling and support helps Alzheimer’s caregivers have better health--including a lower incidence of depression.FYI, some of the other top barriers in the Indianapolis survey: the sufferer’s difficult behavior and need for hands-on care, loss of personal time, and a lack of community and financial support.How about you: Does your care-giving experience jive with this study?
Image by Flickr user boryaused under the Creative Commons attribution license.
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