Jane cares for her husband Jim who is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Some days she feels as if she cannot be any sadder. This is not her husband as he used to be. His abilities keep changing over time. He requires more and more care. She feels guilty when she wishes the caregiving load would end. It is painful to witness his dependency on her for personal care and decision making when he used to be so self-sufficient.
Why does she feel depressed and even angry sometimes? She knows she should be thankful that he is still with her. Indeed, there are moments when they connect in some way and those are special to her.
The feelings Jane is experiencing is a type of grief called anticipatory grief. Caregivers of loved ones with a chronic illness live through many losses while their loved one is still living. During the illness, the loved one’s physical and cognitive abilities may change which require a series of adjustments for both the caregiver and the loved one.
By providing regular visits as a care manager, I helped Jane recognize that her feelings are normal. I helped her realize that this time provides an opportunity to prepare emotionally for Jim’s death. Jane began to write in a journal about her feelings. It helps her “talk” to someone through her journaling. We identified contacts in her support network of friends and faith leaders to call on when she needs to talk to someone.
Drawing on my familiarity with resources in the community, we identified and arranged appropriate services such as home health care and hospice care for Jim. Jane feels better equipped to manage her caregiving role as a result. We worked together to make funeral arrangements for Jim in advance. Jane feels prepared to have plans in place.
A care manager can help with the grief process by providing support and helping to create a support network. Care managers can identify needs and recommend services that would be helpful. Care managers often assist with end of life decision making and funeral arrangements.
If you would like assistance, Golden Pond Virginia has a team of professionals who can help you navigate decisions for your aging parents or grandparents. Please reach out to us at 703-723-3737 to let us know how we can help.