Grief Among Demented Elderly Individuals: A Pilot Study

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Grief behaviors of 17 elderly persons with dementia living at nursing homes were observed. When compared with bereaved with normal cognitive ability, both similarities and differences were found. Similarities seemed to exist for irritability, lost appetite, increased sedative medication, bodily complaints, less physical activity, and less interest in happy events. Differences were found, for example, social activity, as they did not isolate themselves. The workload of staff increased when a caretaker was bereaved. Repeated information to the patients with dementia about the loss, their seeking for the dead and crying outbursts remembering the loss, and the need of comfort was common, although several had their loss more than months ago. Proper interventions including facilitating programs for both staff and caretakers are recommended, as also a larger study group.

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