Did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia are often called “family” diseases because of the significant impact of a diagnosis not only on the person afflicted, but on their family members as well? On September 21, we celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day to raise awareness of what this disease can mean for families. If you are married and your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you may feel it deeply. It can be important to find ways to support your spouse, while also reaching out to find support for yourself as you travel together on this journey.
If your spouse has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, take time to sit and talk with him or her about his or her feelings. What does the diagnosis mean to your spouse? What does he or she want to continue including in his or her daily routine to feel a sense of being normal? What changes would he or she like to make to accommodate a different energy level? Asking these questions and giving your spouse the space to answer can help you both to figure out how to move forward. Your spouse may want to continue doing some of the same daily activities together. For example, continuing to go shopping together or play tennis, even if these things take a little more time due to your spouse’s becoming forgetful. Being understanding and accepting of a slower pace can help you both.
Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia are often called a “family” disease because of the difficult effects it has on the afflicted person’s family members and friends. If your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you will want to assist him or her in every way you can, but it is also important for you to seek out support. There may be local support groups for spouses and caregivers. Going to one that meets regularly can give you a place to express your frustrations and concerns. It may also be a place to make friends with others in your situation who can provide a shoulder to lean on.
If your spouse has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, now may be a good time to discuss future caregiving plans and estate planning. You may need to create plans for who will provide day to day care, how you will pay for it, and how you will preserve your assets for the other spouse or your children and grandchildren. While these things can be tough to talk about, it can be important to do so before your spouse is incapacitated, so that he or she can have an active role in making plans for his or her own future and for yours. For help handling these issues, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment.