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“Caregiving in general is hard, but caregiving for a person with dementia is harder,” said Felicia Greenfield, Penn Memory’s executive director. “Caregivers report high rates of anxiety and depression. They have a harder time attending to their own health. Things change socially; their friends don’t understand or come around anymore.”

"For families facing the difficulties of cognitive decline, access to medical treatment is just one piece of the puzzle. As Greenfield explains, many families also need help navigating resources in their communities, or social or emotional support, or help finding an alternative living arrangement for their loved one; or they may need to learn specific techniques for managing challenging behaviors that dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases may cause."

Greenfield said that one of the techniques for coping with dementia that she teaches families is practicing gratitude.  "We try not to focus on the losses," she said.

Felicia Greenfield, a social worker who is executive director of the Penn Memory Center, said caregivers also need to take care of themselves. The extra worry and isolation have been hard on them, too, and their feelings can affect loved ones with dementia.

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