First, realize that grief is natural and should be allowed to happen. You are not alone in this, and yet you ARE unique. To that end, if you know someone else in a similar situation, try not to compare yourself to him or her. They might handle the process differently. Some grieve quietly, some quickly, some prolonged. The goal is for all to reach a stage of acceptance.
How can you alleviate your pain? Try writing in a journal. Grieving actually is an array of emotions — anger, depression, shock, resentment, fear, loneliness, anxiety — that need to be expressed. If you can journal your thoughts, it can create an “escape” to a “safe” place, which is easier than going to a support group or a counselor, or even talking with a friend. Writing in a journal is an immediate and healthy way of coping.
You should still consider attending a support group. It can be very helpful. Go with an open mind — don’t become overwhelmed when you hear others describe their situations. Everybody will have his or her own similar, yet unique, situation. Remember, too, that you’re not only there to get help — you’ll also be helping others. We forget that doing something for others makes us feel good about ourselves, which enhances our personal health in several ways.
If there is someone you can confide in, such as a close friend(s), talk with her or him as often as the two of you can. Instead of feeling that we’re a burden to others, we should realize “that’s what friends are for” was coined for a good reason. Our friends want to help us, but usually we have to make a first step somehow. Or at least a welcoming one. Don’t worry about having too many people to confide in, or feeling obligated to confide in more people than you might want. Usually, just a few will become the ones you rely on.
You also should consider talking with a member of the clergy whom you know and trust. Many are trained for just these kinds of talks. In many church communities, there are also others with whom you could speak.
Depending on your needs, do not think twice if you believe you might benefit from a professional counselor who is trained in grief consultations. Some of them lead grief support groups — something you might want to consider (as opposed to just a general caregiving group).
Family members, of course, can fill many of these roles. Some families are always close when it comes to personal matters. But keep in mind that even those families that don’t consider themselves “tight,” often have members who answer the bell and are nonetheless there for one other when the going gets tough. If you have family members who are either unable or unwilling to “be there” for you, however, you definitely should turn to one or more of the sources mentioned above. For more information, an excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking
Both can cause hallucinations or delusions. It’s worth keeping in mind that hallucinations and delusions are not the same thing.
First, delusions are beliefs that do not agree with existing facts and persistently remain, despite all evidence against them. Hallucinations can involve any sense but are usually associated with seeing or hearing. They cannot be confirmed by anyone other than the person experiencing them.
If you think medication might be causing either of these in your loved one, consult the individual’s doctor. You also can do some research yourself by speaking with the pharmacist or by clicking into the medication’s own website. (Just type in the name of the medication in whatever search engine you use, and you should get the information you need.)
Even then, if you believe a medication is the reason for hallucinations or delusions, check with the prescribing doctor before cutting off its use. Why? Many medications should not be stopped abruptly and need to be tapered off.
Another cause of delusions and hallucinations can be dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, affects each person in a different way. Some people have delusions. Some experience hallucinations. Some have both, some neither.
A general rule of thumb is if the hallucinations don’t frighten or upset someone (they’re “friendly” hallucinations), the people around the sufferer need to just “go with the flow.”
Validation is important when hallucinations appear to enter the picture. If a loved one says he or she hears or sees someone who isn’t really there, you can ask, “Are they nice?” or “What’s your friends’ names?”
The situation gets more difficult, of course, if hallucinations are not friendly. The sufferer might think someone is out to kill him or her, violate his or her loving space or do some other type of harm.
Validation helps in this situation, too, but getting it is trickier than with “friendly” hallucinations. This is where “therapeutic fibs” might come in handy. You won’t be telling the entire truth but it will be in your loved one’s best interests.
If your loved one feels threatened, you can sympathize and say that you, too, were worried so you called 911 and authorities took the offender away. This might or might not put the person’s mind at ease; and even if it does, it might not last long. Unfriendly hallucinations can start up again and you will have to respond again. If such a routine persists, you should consult a doctor.
For more information about Alzheimer’s and how it might affect a loved one, check out the free,