The onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia can be life-altering for more than just the person affected. Friends, family, and others must reflect on what this means for the future and how life will change from the initial diagnosis. As a spouse of someone with memory loss, it can only be a greater toll. Supporting a couple coping with memory loss is possible by following some of the following tips that cater to each common struggle they face:
When it comes to decision making that was normally shared by both sides of the couple, to now falling more so on one’s shoulders, it can be overwhelming. As the caregiver of a partner or spouse, the neverending responsibilities that are associated can be a lot to handle.
Doctor’s appointments, medication schedules, keeping up with house chores, financial obligations and bills, driving and cooking all add up. If one spouse used to be the primary decision-maker in the household, and is the one with memory loss, it can be especially scary and hard for the other to take on this new role.
What you can do – be there to help them stay organized. Find out what their weekly schedule or monthly due dates are. If there is some way that you can take off some of the stress of planning, they will appreciate it. Being there to assist with specific tasks or seek professional help when needed is all it takes.
Loss of Connection
Being the spouse of someone with memory loss can lead to a feeling of losing their life partner, even if they are physically still with them. Less interaction, affection, inability to remember memories that are close to the heart, and less conversation can make the spouse caregiver feel very lonely and at a loss with the intimacy they once had with them.
There are a few kind measures you can take. Things as small as giving the caregiver a hug or holding their hand may be huge to them, when they feel a void in physical affection. You can also come up with ways that may rekindle the spark, despite their situation. Preparing one of their favorite romantic dinners, breaking out the wedding photos, or even presenting the opportunity for them to hold hands on a nice walk, can make the connections feel real again.
If this caregiver is lacking in time spent with friends and family due to the time-consuming efforts of being there for their spouse, it may be time to intervene with additional help. Social withdrawal and inability to make time with others can come with time as the memory loss progresses in their loved one. Whether it be to hire professional help, develop a rotating schedule with other trusted loved ones, or to frequently call and reach out for support,
Reminding the Caregiver the Importance of Wellbeing
Oftentimes, in a couple with memory loss, one becomes so wrapped up with taking the time to make sure their spouse is well taken care of, that they forget to do the same for themselves.
It is important for the caregiver to know that their health is equally important, because how can a caregiver take care of someone else if they aren’t in good condition themselves? Checking in on this individual by asking non-invasive questions like, “What have you eaten lately?” or “Have you been getting enough sleep?”
They may not answer truthfully, as in the selflessness of caregiving, they put the focus on making sure their spouse with memory loss is as comfortable and safe as possible. But signs of depression can be detrimental to the mental and physical well being of a caregiver.
Being the spouse or partner to someone with memory loss is not easy by any means. The weight put on the shoulders when taking the role of caregiver is not just physically enduring on the body, but emotionally traumatic to the soul and heart as well. Watching the one you love change in ways that Alzheimer’s and dementia can is one of the hardest things a couple could ever have to go through.
If you are a caregiver to your spouse or loved one, or have friends or family going through this journey and feel as though the role of caregiving is becoming too much, seek no further.
Kensington Place is a senior living community where residents are treated like family, because we hold a promise to love and care for your loved ones as we do our own.
We have two different memory care neighborhoods, that meet the needs of all stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. With state-of-the-art therapies and caring staff, you can rest assured your loved one is being given the most knowledgeable care.
Visitors are encouraged to come to our community as often as they’d like. Whether it’s an easy going afternoon, or you’re looking for something more vibrant, we also feature a monthly calendar full of events and activities. Our dining menu is filled with tasty creations by our very own Chef Tony, who specializes in dishes not only great for the palette, but full of the nutrition your loved one needs.
If you are looking for help, or have questions about our community and what makes us different from the rest, get in touch with us today!