It’s a little discussed, yet important issue that affects those with living with Alzheimer’s.
Love. Romantic love, to be more specific.
No matter what relationship it is, it demands love. Love and feelings of caring and romance are important and make a relationship special.
But what if your partner or your loved one is facing memory loss?
That can make it difficult for your partner to remember the importance of your relationship.
Traditions such as giving flowers or chocolates as gifts or enjoying a romantic dinner at a favorite restaurant may become a thing of the past.
Alzheimer’s patients face a difficult social life. All their relationships are affected… especially those with their spouses.
It may get to the point where your spouse/partner doesn’t recognize you or understand what your relationship is. Their appetite for romance may disappear.
And that can leave you feeling like your partner doesn’t have an interest in your relationship or marriage any longer.
So what can you do? Is there a way to keep the romance alive if your spouse/partner has dementia or Alzheimer’s?
Here are a few tips on how to keep a healthy relationship with a partner suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Meet them in their world
Remember you took a vow “for better or worse – in sickness and in health.” Try understanding your partner. Understand they are still around and your relationship is going to require some adjustments. So try to love them for who and where they are in the moment.
Don’t force them to remember the old times. They can be frustrated with these questions because they can’t remember much. Help them in the new world they are living in and try your best to calm their mind.
And, remember, you can still share tender touches. As well as other displays of love and affection.
Pay Attention To Detail
If they are open to holding hands. Hold hands. If they seem to be up for a gentle neck massage… take that opportunity to connect with them.
Talk To Them
Talk with them about different topics. Share your feelings with them. Listen intently to what they have to tell you.
Be sure to remind them that you love them. And that you always will love them even if they forget who you are.
Talk about the Past
There can be times when they remember. At such a time, help them understand what they are thinking of. Show them old pictures, songs or other objects to jog their memory.
Ask them if they remember your wedding day. Or the day you first met. Or when your kids were born.
Being able to share times like these can be a path to establishing some intimacy or a new connection.
Celebrate the Good Times
Your partner, like many with dementia, will have good days and bad. Be sure to celebrate the good ones. This ability to see the beauty in these moments (even if they are few and far between) is a key ingredient to loving someone living with dementia.
Leaving someone alone at home who is suffering from memory loss can be dangerous. If you have to go out and don’t want to leave them alone, get help from another caregiver.
This could be a family member. Or a friend. Or even a home health professional.
This person will take care of your partner for the time when you are not there. They’ll provide a safe and comfortable environment for your spouse.
So don’t be afraid to run errands, take care of your own health care needs or just take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. You should not have to go through this alone so ask for help when you need it.