Dementia will bring you to tears.
The good news? Tears are good for you.
“Being strong” is part of your job description when you have a loved-one with dementia. But dementia is a long, hard journey, and tears come with the territory no matter how strong you are.
A while back, I stumbled across an article on the internet called “7Good Reasons to Cry Your Eyes Out” by Therese Borchard. It says tears “are like a natural therapy or massage session, but they cost a lot less!”
The writer explains that crying releases toxins from the body and also stimulates the production of endorphins, our natural “feel good” hormones. The article gives credence to the old adage that you’ll feel better after a good cry.
In another online article called “The Miracle of Tears,” writer Jerry Bergman reports that “Suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers.”
In other words, if you don’t let those emotional tears flow every now and then, you increase your risk for all sorts of health problems.
So, although I don’t recommend opening the floodgates in front of the person with dementia (He is confused and generally feeling bad enough already!), don’t hold back the tears forever.
If your loved-one lives in a memory care community, I guarantee you the staff there is used to tears and won’t be at all shocked if you “fall apart” in front of them. They may even shed a few tears right along with you.
Otherwise, find a friend or just a private place where you feel safe to let the tears flow. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I collapsed sobbing in my car after visits with my dad.
During my “breakdowns,” I doubted I could survive another day of my dad’s dementia. But I did survive. And it turns out that allowing those moments of “weakness” actually helped give me strength to endure.
“What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.” – Jewish Proverb