Re: grief over losing a spouse, or beginning dementia?

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From: Dallas
Posts: 262

Sorry it took so long to respond. I am not visiting here much anymore as both Barb and myself are swamped, deluged, in our real jobs as researcher and chaplain. Actually, we are planning on closing this site down in the next several weeks and moving it's data somewhere else in a more static form. So, your's is probably the last post we'll see here.

I am so sorry for the loss, pain, and stress that you are going through. AS I have done in other posts from other people, I will try to channel Barb as she is the uber-expert on Alzheimer's. But, I have been around her and AD to know what she would say. I think she would say that in couples one partner will often cover for the dementia-afflicted person so much that the dementia is not obvious. Thus, perhaps your late Mom - rest her soul - protected your Dad, covering for his dementia. When he is no longer there,it is much more obvious than it was before.

But, as you wisely point out, there is also a dynamic in loss and grief that is so all-encompassing that it deeply impacts not only emotions but our physiology. By way of example, I'm sure you've heard of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. Ahh, but you hear of it described another way - Broken Heart Syndrome. In this syndrome or cardiomyopathy, the heart is actually physically remodeled - literally - in response to intense stress. The mechanism for this remodeling is still not understood, though there are some guesses. The heart structure is altered so that it looks like something very familiar to the Japanese - where it was first researched: It looks like an octopus trap also known as a tako-tsubo. Isn't that remarkable???

Anyway, if the heart can be sooooo severely remodeled in grief and stress, can we expect anything less of the brain? Even under the best of circumstances, the loss would have a serious impact. But figuring in the already diminished brain function prior to the loss, the damage would even be greater.

I hope you will not be harsh to yourself. As well, self-care is so important. We as health care providers are great for pushing that but often fail to be very generous to ourselves.

As this site will be going down in the next several weeks,please feel free to do a search for me on Look for mikethechap

Posted on 2013/3/9 3:50

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