Managing Loss and Change: Grief Interventions for Dementia Caregivers in a CBT-Based Trial

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2016 May;31(3):231-40. doi: 10.1177/1533317515602085. Epub 2015 Aug 26.


Dementia caregivers often experience loss and grief related to general caregiver burden, physical, and mental health problems. Through qualitative content analysis, this study analyzed intervention strategies applied by therapists in a randomized-controlled trial in Germany to assist caregivers in managing losses and associated emotions. Sequences from 61 therapy sessions that included interventions targeting grief, loss, and change were transcribed and analyzed. A category system was developed deductively, and the intercoder reliability was satisfactory. The identified grief intervention strategies were recognition and acceptance of loss and change,addressing future losses,normalization of grief, and redefinition of the relationship Therapists focused on identifying experienced losses, managing associated feelings, and fostering acceptance of these losses. A variety of cognitive-behavioral therapy-based techniques was applied with each strategy. The findings contribute to understanding how dementia caregivers can be supported in their experience of grief and facilitate the development of a manualized grief intervention.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; caregiver support; cognitive behavioral therapy; grief; qualitative content analysis; telephone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*