Spousal Caregiving: How Dementia Changes a Marriage

When people plan for the future, they often think about when they will get married, how many children they will have and where they will live. Once children come along, many figure that it’s a good time to create a will and plan for future care needs. Some people, however, do not, leaving there to be some fear and stress when a health crisis occurs. This leaves their family members responsible for choosing how they are to be cared for. Most often, this choice lays on their spouses. Depending on what health needs are present, most spouses elect to care for their loved ones on their own at home. Depending on the disease, this can be difficult. One of the biggest issues that can become present when adults age is dementia. “Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia present a very difficult challenge for spouses,” says Robin Crum, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, FL. “Because of how dementia affects seniors, their minds and their abilities, caring for a spouse may cause challenges and strains on your marriage in a number of ways. Whether it affects your finances, ability to communicate or stress level, it’s important to understand what changes might lie ahead so you can plan for the future accordingly and provide the level of care your spouse needs and deserves.”

What Challenges Can Dementia Present in a Marriage?

According to AARP, spousal caregivers want to do what is best for their loved one, but often become demoralized and ground down from ongoing demands and lack of recognition and acknowledgment. Other challenges can also arise, such as: Changes in dynamics & balance When you are caring for a spouse with dementia, a lot of the household tasks may fall on you, including all their care. This may mean some passion and friendship may be removed from your marriage, but it’s important to try to minimize the effects as much as possible. Lack of support Where you may be used to your spouse being there to support you, you will likely be providing most of the support. While they may ask how you are doing and if they can help, it’s likely that you’ll shoulder a lot of the emotional aspects on your own. It’s important to still ask them to listen, however.

How Can Spouses Cope with These Changes?

According to AARP, there may be some ways to decrease the challenges that spousal caregiving can present, while decreasing your risk of physical and mental exhaustion. Consider some of the following: 1. Find a different way to connect. Your marriage may not be the same as it was before, but it can still be fulfilling. Do things you used to love together, adapt activities so your spouse can continue participating. Hold hands and don’t talk about caregiving or health needs when you are spending quality time together. 2. Take care of your body. It’s important for you to continue eating well and exercising. Try to eat nutritious meals and include your spouse in activities. For example, if possible, go for a walk or put on some music your loved one likes and dance together. 3. Spend time together outdoors when possible. Spend the day outside with your spouse. Walk through nature, go for lunch and sit outside if your loved one is able to. Spending time outside can not only relax you, but can help to calm those with dementia, as well. 4. Take your emotions seriously. Are you feeling worn out and tired? Know you don’t need to do everything at once and that it’s ok if you take a break. Are you feeling agitated? Walk away for a moment. Fighting with a spouse with dementia is not a good idea because they may become aggressive. Be sure to take their feelings into consideration as well, because it’s not an easy time for them either. 5. Take time for you and treat yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself. Do something you love, like reading or shopping. Meet a friend or family member for lunch or simply nap. Whatever makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated is a good idea. 6. Ask for help. Caregivers don’t often ask for help, however, it’s necessary in order to keep yourself healthy and well. It’s important to realize that you can’t do it all, no matter how hard you try. Ask friends and family for assistance with everyday tasks. Be specific in what you need from them because many times, they don’t know or understand the amount of work you do. For more information about spousal caregiving or to learn ways to cope with the changes you are facing, contact the team at YourLife of Pensacola. We would be happy to help you through your caregiving journey.

The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.

Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 850-898-3334 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.