What About You? After Your Loved One with Dementia Moves into a Care Community

If you have been caring for a loved one at home with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, sometimes there comes a point when you are no longer able to provide the best possible care for them. It may be a question of their safety and/or your ability to play multiple roles 24/7, and the incredible stress that comes from that responsibility.

Once that huge decision is made and your loved one has moved into a care community, you may be surprised at the range of emotions you experience. Guilt, maybe anger, and even feelings of relief (of which you may feel guilty!)

There may also be undefinable grief that becomes a constant companion. Grief and loss that is unclear, with no resolution and no closure has been defined by Dr. Pauline Boss as “ambiguous loss”1. The nagging feeling may be ever-present, and accepting the idea of no- closure is difficult. But, there is hope. Let’s explore ways to move through this type of grief:

  1. Define the grief—give it a name. This allows the possibility of giving meaning to it. Learnmore about ambiguous


  1. Seekhelp through a support group or individual counseling with someone who specializes in grief recovery and understands the challenges of caring for someone with


  1. Celebrate the moments of victory: time spent in a beautiful garden, enjoying a deliciousmeal, moments when your loved one has clarity and remembrance, seeing your loved one clean and well-dressed, and the moments of


  1. Be open to exploring and redefining your purpose. Caring for your loved one has beenyour daily purpose–now you are faced with what to do with your time. This may be a beautiful time for you to think about who you are, what you enjoy, and what you would like to accomplish in the  Learn to embrace this new chapter.


Melody Thomas-Morgan Resident Relations Specialist The Margaret T. Morris Center www.adultcareservices.org

 1 Boss, P. (2011). Loving Someone Who Has Dementia. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.