Caring for a Spouse With Alzheimer’s Disease

When it comes to being healthy and happy in your marriage, helping each other through challenges and difficult moments is important. When your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, it can be a process to fully understand what you’ll need to do in order to support them through the changes and challenges they may face. There are many ways that you can bring normalcy to your daily lives and help to stay positive as their condition progresses. 

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that will degrade a person’s memory and mental faculties. It can start out with general confusion and forgetfulness but it can eventually become severe enough that they can forget friends, loved ones, and other significant memories. Although symptoms may be similar, each condition will be unique and progress at different paces. Staying in touch with your doctors and monitoring the progress will give you a better idea of your spouse’s condition and its development.

Finding Assistance

One of the first things to do when you discover your spouse has symptoms of dementia and could have Alzheimer’s Disease is to make sure you have the assistance you need. Getting more information on the condition, symptoms, and progression from their doctor and other professionals can keep you informed on changes that may happen eventually. 

It’s also important to make sure the mental health of both you and your spouse is in a positive place. BetterHelp, an online mental health resource, has medically-reviewed articles that can not only provide assistance to your partner with Alzheimer’s but also give you more information and coaching on how to navigate it yourself. Many mental health care professionals are trained and experienced in helping families work through conditions that can affect personality and change the routine of a household. 

Prioritizing A Healthy Relationship

It’s important to remember that even though your spouse has a condition that can eventually affect their reactions, behaviour, and potentially their personality, this is still the person you married. As such, maintaining a healthy relationship is a top priority in working through this situation. Having open communication, discussing your emotions and feelings, and making an effort to understand each other’s needs can help you two to grow stronger as a team. 

During this time, you may need to reevaluate your expectations of the relationship. They will most likely lose certain memories, struggle with daily routines, and have difficulty articulating their needs as the condition progresses. While they may not be able to be as active in your relationship as they used to be – attending social events, buying gifts, sharing stories, etc. – it’s still necessary to help remind them that your relationship is valuable and important.

Keep Connecting

As mentioned earlier, a person with Alzheimer’s Disease may have difficulty keeping track of their memories and thoughts. That’s why connecting with them as much as possible is important to help everyone stay involved. Regularly going through old photos, reminiscing about old stories, or looking through souvenirs and tokens are great practices to remind them of past adventures. Although they eventually may not be able to recall the memory themself, repeating the story for their sake can help them to relive those moments. 

Research has also shown that humour can improve a person’s mind, body, and heart. Telling funny stories, reminding them of old jokes, and keeping your relationship lighthearted is a great way to improve everyone’s mental health and relieve tension. It’s also important to stay mindful and remember that the future isn’t guaranteed – every moment together can improve your relationship and staying connected is a great way to appreciate the little things in your lives.

Helping Yourself Too

One of the best ways you can help your spouse through Alzheimer’s Disease is by making sure you’re also taking enough care of yourself as well. While it may sound like a simple task, it’s not uncommon for people to get caught up in the care of others, neglecting their own needs and priorities. This can not only increase their stress and anxiety, but it could also lead to illness or declining mental health. 

Make sure you’re consistent in maintaining a regular self-care routine and monitoring your mental health. It can also be beneficial to reach out to friends and family members for assistance if you begin to feel overwhelmed or if you need time alone for an evening. It’s important to remember that it’s acceptable to need time for yourself or with other friends and that maintaining a regular social life can also be beneficial for your mental health. 

This post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

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