Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.

Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.


It is a broad term to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions. Dementia causes significant impairment in a person’s day to day functioning.

Drugs to treat the cognitive symptoms of dementia

A number of drugs are currently available in Australia for use by people with dementia. These drugs fall into two categories, cholinergic treatments and Memantine.

Cholinergic treatments
Cholinergic treatments offer some relief from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for some people for a limited time. Drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors work by blocking the actions of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase which destroys an important neurotransmitter for memory called acetylcholine. Current cholinergic treatments are approved for use for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. A number of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are available as subsidised medicines under the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

People may receive these drugs at nominal cost if a physician or psychiatrist has found them to have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. They must show improvement on a commonly used test of mental function in the first six months of treatment in order to receive further supplies of subsidised medication.

Memantine treatments
Memantine targets a neurotransmitter called glutamate that is present in high levels when someone has Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine blocks glutamate and prevents too much calcium moving into the brain cells causing damage. It is the first in a new class of therapies and acts quite differently to the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors that are currently approved for treatment in Australia.

Memantine is currently approved for use for people with moderately-severe to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It is available at subsidised rates under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule for those who meet the criteria for diagnosis and stage of disease.

How to get treatment

It is important that the person has a firm diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, not another form of dementia and to determine which stage the disease is in. A specialist, such as neurologist, psychogeriatrician, geriatrician or psychiatrist, will usually be involved in the prescription of these drugs.

A scientific film with a 3D modeling made on the inner mechanisms of the brain implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Very interesting look at Alzheimers.

A scientific film with a 3D modeling made on the inner mechanisms of the brain implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Available in English, German, French and Dutch produced by Internationale Stichting Alzheimer Onderzoek (ISAO) (NL), Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V. (AFI) (D) and La Ligue Européenne Contre la Maladie d’Alzheimer (LECMA) (FR).

Caregiver describes his struggles and learning process in dealing with his wife’s failing health, and incontinence. Incontinence is a difficult but important issue we help with at Beehive Homes

Caregiver describes his struggles and learning process in dealing with his wife’s failing health, and also issues with incontinence.
When dealing with a loved ones incontinence it is important to be very kind and understanding. You don’t want to embarrass them, but you also don’t want to have to have them change clothes and bedding all of the time. They have very discrete pads to help.

When an Adult Experiences the Death of a Parent

When an Adult Experiences the Death of a Parent
Your parent has died. Whether their death was sudden or expected, hearing the news or being
there with your mom or dad in their final moments is a shock to your system. Life will no longer
the same without them. Changes abound no matter if you lived with them, saw them or spoke to
them daily, or had less frequent contact.
Typical Reactions to a Parent’s Death
While it is true that from the time you were a child you imagined, and perhaps feared, that your
parent would die someday, you may not feel prepared for the overwhelming impact their death
is having on you. A myriad of thoughts and feelings swirl around in your head. Your body reacts
with physical ailments and symptoms. Emotional and spiritual issues arise as you ponder the
meaning of life without your parent.
How Can This Be?
It is hard to fathom that your parent, who has always been there, is now gone. There were so
many things you did together or had hoped to do with them. Now you must adapt to a new way
of perceiving the world.
No One Can Take Their Place
Your parent is irreplaceable, no matter if they were your parent by birth, by adoption, or by
circumstances. Whether you were on the best of terms or if you were experiencing challenges in
your relationship, their death shakes up your family structure and profoundly effects your
perception of yourself as a member of the family. Perhaps a great deal of your role identity
and/or your daily schedule involved caring for your parent; all that changed with their death. No
matter what your age, or how long you have been independent of them, you may find yourself
longing to be someone’s little girl/little boy again. Or you catch yourself thinking, “No one will
ever love me or take care of me like my parent did.”
I Have So Much to Do
If this is your first parent to die, you will not only be going through your own grief process, but
you will very likely be witnessing your surviving parent’s grief. They may need you to comfort
them in their sorrow. It may now be your responsibility to look after your surviving parent.
Being in charge of tasks that previously were done by the one who died can be daunting, both
physically and emotionally. Recognizing all the business that you now are expected to take care
of can leave you exhausted and overwhelmed.
If This Was Your Second Parent to Die
You have acquired a new title. Now you are an “adult orphan.” Although the term orphan is
more commonly used in reference to a young child, the fact remains that you now have no living
parents. This change may usher in a second identity crisis as you wrestle with the meaning of
being the oldest generation in your immediate family.
Your Emotional Inheritance
Consider the traits and life lessons given to you by your parent. What are some of those
characteristics, values, and ways of being in the world that you treasure? How will you uphold
their ideals or continue to pursue their goals? What do you tell others, who didn’t know them as
you did, about who your parent was?
© 2013 OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center
Bittersweet Discoveries About Yourself
What are you discovering about yourself as you go through the grief process? Are you stronger
or more capable in some areas than you might have anticipated? Of course you would probably
prefer to have your parent still alive and NOT be learning these lessons. But given the fact of
their death, are there some things that you admire about the way you are handling things?
Mixed Reactions From Others
Since your parent died, you have probably been surprised, both positively and negatively, by the
reactions of your friends and co-workers. Have you heard phrases like: “Well, he had a good
life,” “At least she isn’t suffering anymore,” “You knew that this would happy one day; now you
are free to live your life as you wish” or even “Aren’t you over it yet”? Some people just don’t
understand. Yet others may pop out of the woodwork with words of condolence and helpful
Following the Death of Your Parent
 You may find yourself eager to be around other family members who knew your parent
 On the other hand, you may feel apprehensive about being with others and prefer to be
somewhere alone where you can grieve privately
 You may find a sense of comfort in being in their home, or find it hard to walk through
the door
 You may feel relieved in some ways
 You may find it hard to believe that your parent has died and miss them when you have
accomplishments that you long to share with them
 You may catch yourself daydreaming or unable to concentrate on activities that require
your full attention
 Your friends may not understand why you are having such an intense reaction to your
parent’s death and want you to be the same old person you always have been
 You can anticipate that holidays and family gatherings will stir up intense emotions
 Your thoughts about the meaning of life may change
 You may have an acute awareness about the fragility of life
 You may decide to change your goals, make new choices, and evaluate your priorities
Helpful Actions
 Let your siblings, friends, and family members know how you are feeling; be available to
give and receive support from each other
 Invite conversations about the memories you have of your parent
 Set up a memorial space in your home; place flowers or candles, a picture of your parent,
a place to write messages or thoughts
 Give yourself plenty of time to grieve and process your feelings
 Take good care of yourself and know that your heart is healing in baby steps
West LA: 310-473-1511│Woodland Hills: 818-222-3344

Helping Yourself Heal When a Parent Dies

Your mother or father has died. Whether you had a good, bad or indifferent relationship with the parent who died, your feelings for him or her were probably quite strong. At bottom, most of us love our parents deeply. And they love us with the most unconditional love that imperfect human beings can summons.

You are now faced with the difficult, but necessary, need to mourn the loss of this significant person in your life. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings about the death. It is an essential part of healing.

Realize Your Grief is Unique

Your grief is unique. No one grieves in exactly the same way. Your particular experience will be influenced by the type of relationship you had with your parent, the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system and your cultural and religious background.

As a result, you will grieve in your own way and in your own time. Don’t try to compare your experience with that of other people, or adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a “one-day-at-a-time” approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Expect to Feel a Multitude of Emotions

The parent-child bond is perhaps the most fundamental of all human ties. When your mother or father dies, that bond is torn. In response to this loss you may feel a multitude of strong emotions.

Numbness, confusion, fear, guilt, relief and anger are just a few of the feelings you may have. Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time. Or they may occur simultaneously.

While everyone has unique feelings about the death of a parent, some of the more common emotions include:


You probably expected to feel sad when your parent died, but you may be surprised at the overwhelming depth of your feelings of loss. It’s natural to feel deeply sad. After all, someone who loved you without condition and cared for you as no one else could have is now gone. If this was your second parent to die, you may feel especially sorrowful; becoming an “adult orphan” can be a very painful transition. You may also feel sad because the loss of a parent triggers secondary losses, such as the loss of a grandparent to your children. Allow yourself to feel sad and embrace your pain.

If your parent was sick for a time before the death, you may well feel relief when he or she finally dies. This feeling may be particularly strong if you were responsible for your ill parent’s care. This does not mean you did not love your parent. In fact, your relief at the end to suffering is a natural outgrowth of your love.

If you came from a dysfunctional or abusive family, you may feel unresolved anger toward your dead parent. His or her death may bring painful feelings to the surface. On the other hand, you may feel angry because a loving relationship in your life has prematurely ended. If you are angry, try to examine the source of that often legitimate anger and work to come to terms with it.

If your relationship with your parent was rocky, distant or ambivalent, you may feel guilty when that parent dies. You may wish you had said things you wanted to say but never did-or you may wish you could unsay hurtful things. You may wish you had spent more time with your parent. Guilt and regret can be normal responses to the death of your mother or father. And working through those feelings is essential to healing.
As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Let yourself feel whatever you may be feeling; don’t judge yourself or try to repress painful thoughts and feelings. And whenever you can, find someone who will hear you out as you explore your grief.

Recognize the Death’s Impact on Your Entire Family

If you have brothers or sisters, the death of this parent will probably affect them differently than it is affecting you. After all, each of them had a unique relationship with the parent who died, so each has the right to mourn the loss in his or her own way.

The death may also stir up sibling conflicts. You and your brothers and sisters may disagree about the funeral, for example, or argue about family finances. Recognize that such conflicts are natural, if unpleasant. Do your part to encourage open communication during this stressful family time. You may find, on the other hand, that the death of your parent brings you and your siblings closer together. If so, welcome this gift.

Finally, when there is a surviving parent, try to understand the death’s impact on him or her. The death of a spouse-often a husband or wife of many decades-means many different things to the surviving spouse than it does to you, the child of that union. This does not mean that you are necessarily responsible for the living parent; in fact, to heal you must first and foremost meet your own grief needs. But it does mean that you, a younger and often more resilient family member, should be patient and compassionate as you continue your relationship with the surviving parent.

Reach Out to Others for Support

Perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself at this difficult time is to reach out for help from others. Think of it this way: grieving the loss of a parent may be the hardest work you have ever done. And hard work is less burdensome when others lend a hand.

If your parent was old, you may find that others don’t fully acknowledge your loss. As a culture, we tend not to value the elderly. We see them as having outlived their usefulness instead of as a source of great wisdom, experience and love. And so when an elderly parent dies, we say, “Be glad she lived a long, full life” or “It was his time to go” instead of “Your mother was a special person and your relationship with her must have meant a lot to you. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Blended or nontraditional families can also be the source of disenfranchised grief. If you have lost someone who wasn’t your biological parent but who was, in the ways that count, a mother or father to you, know that your grief for this person is normal and necessary. You have the right to fully mourn the death of a parent-figure.

Seek out people who acknowledge your loss and will listen to you as you openly express your grief. Avoid people who try to judge your feelings or worse yet, try to take them away from you. Sharing your pain with others won’t make it disappear, but it will, over time, make it more bearable. Reaching out for help also connects you to other people and strengthens the bonds of love that make life seem worth living again.

Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued. Your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. And your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself. Get enough rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as possible.

Allow yourself to “dose” your grief; do not force yourself to think about and respond to the death every moment of every day. Yes, you must mourn if you are to heal, but you must also live.

Embrace Your Spirituality

If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you are angry at God because of your parent’s death, realize this feeling as a normal part of your grief work. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of whatever thoughts and feelings you need to explore.

You may hear someone say, “With faith, you don’t need to grieve.” Don’t believe it. Having your personal faith does not insulate you from needing to talk out and explore your thoughts and feelings. To deny your grief is to invite problems to build up inside you. Express your faith, but express your grief as well.

Allow Yourself to Search for Meaning

You may find yourself asking “Why did Mom have to die now?” or “What happens after death?” This search for the meaning of life and living is a normal response to the death of a parent. In fact, to heal in grief you must explore such important questions. It’s OK if you don’t find definitive answers, though. What’s more important is that you allow yourself the opportunity to think (and feel) things through.

Treasure Your Memories

Though your parent is no longer physically with you, he or she lives on in spirit through your memories. Treasure those memories. Share them with your family and friends. Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry, but in either case, they are a lasting and important part of the relationship you had with your mother or father.

You may also want to create lasting tributes to your parent-child relationship. Consider planting a tree or putting together a special memory box with snapshots and other keepsakes.

Move Toward Your Grief and Heal

To live and love wholly again, you must mourn. You will not heal unless you allow yourself to openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it more confusing and overwhelming. Embrace your grief and heal.

Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself. And never forget that the death of a parent changes your life forever.

Related Resources

The Journey Through Grief: Reflections on Healing (book)

Published on Apr 28, 2014
In a special one-hour presentation, 16×9 takes you inside the world of dementia on three continents. In the Netherlands, a village inhabited entirely by dementia patients. Then, a husband’s emotional decision to leave his wife to be cared for in Thailand. And here in Canada, Global National’s very own Dawna Friesen opens up about her family and its battle with dementia. For more info, please go to

BOOK OF THE WEEK–Kisses for Elizabeth

In Kisses for Elizabeth, the author breaks down different behaviors and lets you know how to react when a person with dementia is acting a certain way. She lets you know what to expect, what NOT to do, as well as what TO do. Forty vivid, heartwarming, true stories alongside 15 clear guidelines fill the reader with a wide variety of ideas for managing difficult behaviors, as well as for providing comfort and care.

Product Description
Sub Title: A Common Sense Guide to Alzheimer’s Care Kisses for Elizabeth was written for both family and professional caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It is a practical resource for anyone experiencing difficulty with significant behavioral issues but is also helpful to caregivers who simply want to provide the best possible care. The author has developed 15 common sense guidelines which address a wide variety of concerns by helping caregivers to solve problems or even prevent them. The guidelines also address negative behaviors such as wandering, combativeness, paranoia and sundowning. The book explains what dementia is, how it affects people who suffer from it and why these behaviors occur. Since one of the best ways to learn is by example, the author has included over 40 true heartwarming stories about her patients with dementia and ways in which the guidelines were applied to help resolve their problems and enhance the individuals quality of life.