When confiding in a friend about a loved one’s deteriorating mental condition or discussing family health, many people use dementia and Alzheimer’s disease interchangeably. However, the two medical terms mean different things.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition which can cause the symptoms of dementia, such as memory problems. However, there are also other diseases or medical issues which can cause dementia. Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease is one potential cause of dementia but not the only cause. A person with dementia doesn’t always have Alzheimer’s disease, but someone with Alzheimer’s disease will show signs of dementia.
Devastatingly, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, which can lead to loved ones or the patient feeling grief before expected. This is known as experiencing anticipatory grief. Witnessing a loved one go through dementia can also lead to disenfranchised grief, whereby society doesn’t recognise the feelings of grief a person experiences before the death of their loved one.
● Memory difficulties
● Cognition problems (changes in the way they think about things)
● Seemingly unreasonable or making poor choices
● Lessening attention span/ disinterested or unfocused on tasks they usually would be engaged in
● Significant behavioural changes
Other Causes of Dementia
As mentioned, Alzheimer’s disease is one potential cause of dementia (and often a common cause), but there are other causes for dementia, including:
● Parkinson’s disease dementia
● Immune problems
● Nutritional problems
● Lewy body dementia
● Huntington’s disease
● Brain tumours
● Side effects of medication
● Combination dementia caused by multiple reasons
Of course, the cause of dementia does not alter your feelings of grief when you or a loved one is diagnosed with the condition.
Dealing with Grief Due to Dementia
As a memorial jewellery brand, we also encourage our customers to seek help and support from their loved ones as soon as possible, as anticipatory grief can hit you at any point after diagnosis.
If you are specifically suffering from grief after your loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Society can usually find you a local or online support group. Additionally, these charities can give you reading material to better understand the condition and what to expect in the coming weeks. This knowledge can help you best prepare for the grief and allow you to seek support during your grief sets in.
Alzheimer’s disease is one possible cause of dementia, and it can account for up to 60-80% of all dementia cases. In addition, losing a loved one to dementia can lead to feelings of grief before they pass on. Therefore, it can be an incredibly confusing time, and we recommend seeing support as soon as you are able to reach out to loved ones or a support group.
You may find it helpful to purchase a small personalised token of remembrance, such as a piece of Photo Jewellery or Handwriting Jewellery. Thereby allowing you to remember your loved one and giving you something to hold during moments of grief during your bereavement process.