Woodcliffe Manor

When Your Spouse Has Dementia | From Best Friend to Unrecognizable Stranger

Dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is a heavy burden to bear.

Not just for the one suffering from the condition. But for their children and, especially, their spouse too.

As dementia progresses, it brings on new sets of obstacles and challenges. And, often, it’s the family members that fill the role of caregiver. When you take on responsibility, it changes your relationship with your mother, father, husband or wife.

In the late stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s often necessary to use professional comfort care or hospice care to help. These services are essential to the physical comfort of the senior suffering from dementia. However, the services also provide much needed emotional support and companionship for spouses and other loved ones.

The Challenges of When Your Spouse Has Dementia

When your spouse has dementia, the challenges of caring for their partner changes the dynamics of the relationship. A husband or wife may feel like they’ve failed their spouse if they are unable to provide the care required.

From Spouse to Stranger

And as a loved one’s condition worsens, they may become unrecognizable to their spouse. It is devastating for someone you’ve shared your life with for so many years come to see you as a stranger. Or even a threat.

That’s the unfortunate nature of dementia. It causes spouses to lose pieces of their loved one slowly, sometimes over many years. And then, one day, it seems that the person they once knew no longer exists.

It’s for these, and many other reasons that spouses (and other family caregivers) often experience feelings of isolation, helplessness, and depression.

The Benefits of Hospice and Comfort Care for Spouses and Family Members

Hospice and comfort caregivers can provide much-needed assistance with care, companionship, spiritual guidance and grief support.

These caregivers are uniquely trained to provide more than physical care for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. For family caregivers, hospice/comfort care providers offer a helping hand. They can ease the burden of being the primary caregiver for your loved one.

A hospice/comfort caregiver handles most of responsibilities of care. That will give you some space and time to sort through your own emotions and feelings.

It’s Okay to Grieve

As we mentioned, it can feel like you’re losing your loved one with dementia in slow motion and it will change your relationship with one another. It’s okay to grieve over this loss. Allow yourself to focus on the time you have with your loved one while a caring professional tends to their comfort and well-being.

Immediate Support

For spouses, hospice or comfort care offers immediate support. These professionals can provide a compassionate, listening ear and offer helpful information.

And the advice and companionship they provide is based on experience. They can help a husband or wife understand the realities of the situation. And they can offer strategies for dealing with stress, depression, anger, and grief. And, after the passing of a spouse, comfort bereavement can be continued by having care providers check in periodically.

Getting the Resources and Help You Need

When your spouse has dementia, you and your family face unique and difficult challenges as your loved one passes through the stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And you will likely discover you’ll need help providing the care they need.

There are different types of help you can get. Adult Day Care. Part-time in-home care. Assisted living. And 24-hour comfort care.

Educate yourself on the options out there. If your loved one is able, talk to them about which options they feel comfortable with. And if they can’t make these decisions, it’s up to you to make the decisions for them. Just know that you have resources and support available to you.

So, if you haven’t already, talk with some comfort care professionals. They can help you understand your options. And can help you make the best care decision for you and your family.

To start your search for resources in your area, visit our listings here