Living Just Got Easier

How to Cope with a Spouse Living with Dementia

09/16/2020

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Care Managers are funny creatures, we truly are. From the moment we meet you or your loved one, we are assessing the current situation. We have been taught to do this, so it comes natural to us. One thing we can’t assess, though, is how situations will turn out when we have a client with dementia or how their spouse will handle it.

Dementia diagnoses are one of those situations that can be devastating to not only the client, but it also hits their spouses just as hard. Unfortunately, a common saying with dementia is that their spouses lose them twice: once when they are diagnosed and again when they pass away. Working with many families that are living with a loved one with dementia, Care Managers learn to deal with both the client and their spouse. Let me just say, I am an advocate of support groups when it comes to this. Being able to talk to people in the same situation and walking the same journey in life is a huge help to most people.

The caregiving of a spouse with dementia is demanding and exhausting, not to mention heartbreaking. They are watching the person they have loved their entire lives drift away from them without an ability to stop the process. Fortunately, we have medications now that are able to slow the process but for the majority that’s all it does; it delays the inevitable. Care Managers have learned from caring for clients with dementia that memories play a key role in keeping spouses involved and active in their care.

Basically, teaching the spouse how to keep communication open between them is the key. Thus, allowing them to be active in their care and helping to keep a relationship present in a world that has been tossed through some pretty strong waves. Care Managers understand the importance of spouses and the roles they have in the life of a client with dementia. To be able to reminisce and remind them of past memories of their life, their family, and the relationships they have shared is extremely important. Usually, the love they have shared over the years is the only thing that can spark those “now moments.” That’s why it’s so hard, and yet so beautiful to watch when you see the dementia subside for just a brief moment and they remember who they are and see their loved one “in the moment.” That’s what keeps them going, that’s what keeps them strong; those rare glimpses of who they used to be together!

Do you or a loved one struggle with isolation, lack of cognitive stimulation, or dementia? EMBRACE could be right for you! Melanie Cahill, MS - Engagement Program Coordinator at CAB facilities our EMBRACE program. Everyone needs purpose and meaning in their life. By recognizing this fundamental need, EMBRACE is designed to help our clients engage in life.

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Written By: Care Manager - Melissa Kauffman, RN, CCM

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