As relationships grow, so do the challenges. Over the years of being together, usually being most of a lifetime, senior couples have adapted to a significant amount of changes with one another and with life in general.
A healthy couple works through problems together, and in a way that should benefit both parties. However, some issues are deeper than others, such as what to do if a spouse is suffering memory loss.
It’s a life-altering situation that can spur a lot of fear and complications. The future may seem uncertain, but there are ways you can best be there for your spouse, and figure out how to maintain the happiness you’ve always shared together.
Take Each Day Lightly
The most important thing to remember when your spouse is suffering memory loss is that the results that come about it, are ones you and your loved one can’t control. Even in moments of what appears to be real mental awareness, it is important that the spouse remembers their loved cannot rely on rational thinking and logic as they once did.
If an important anniversary or birthday is something your spouse forgets and they have memory loss, remember to not take it personally or make them feel bad for.
The love you shared may seem burnt from the sudden change in attitude and mood from your spouse. They are frustrated more so with the onset of forgetting and can sometimes lash out in ways you would never thought possible.
In some cases, fear can surface if the state they are in becomes one that doesn’t recall where they are or familiar faces they once knew.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Imagine forgetting almost a lifetime of memories. It can be unimaginable and hard to grasp. There are helpful measures that can be put into place to help your spouse work through their memory lapses.
If the time comes where your spouse has a hard time recognizing you, it may be simply because they are picturing themselves in an earlier age – your 30s, 40s, 50s. The way to best help this is to show them the time and growth you’ve shared together, through pictures that show not just the present, but from the months, years, and decades you may have shared together.
Pictures of the children and extended family can serve additional reminders as well. They may not remember how often they’ve seen someone, or who has passed on, though.
In this situation, you may be able to get away with a “therapeutic lie.” If they are asking about a sister that passed away years ago, telling the blunt fact at that moment could be as devastating to them as hearing it for the first time.
In every relationship, honesty is a key component to love, but it is acceptable in these moments to replace your response with “they’re not here right now,” or something to not give away the true and harsher answer.
Twisting the Situation
Another way to protect your emotions as well as your spouses, is by deflecting the topic to something positive if agitation and fear are apparent. When they look at you and say, I miss my husband or wife, instead of letting that take a stab at your heart, simply ask what they miss or love most about their spouse.
The response you get back may be just what you need to make amends.
Your spouse is getting frustrated with finding an object and keeps repeatedly asking where it is. You then look and see them already holding that exact object.
The key to successfully resolving this scenario is by pointing out what they are already holding, and asking a more specific question surrounding that item to figure out if what they are looking for is closely related to the object, or if they are even mixing up names of objects entirely. (i.e. book instead of newspaper).
When worst comes to worst and there is no resolution in sight for their question or concern, simply throwing on their favorite show or music album can be an instant mood changer. Research even shows the benefits of dancing for memory loss!
Staying Positive, and Knowing You’re Not Alone
Finding the positive amongst such a ground-shaking diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and dementia is not an easy task. Memory loss is hard for not just the one suffering, but the friends, family, and especially the spouse.
By taking the time to truly understand how your loved one’s condition operates and spawns its triggers, you can learn ways to make them more comfortable. Breaking out photo albums and music classics can even spur new and more happily made memories. Laughter, smiles, and resilience is how couples can get through memory loss.
However, when you think that being your spouse’s caregiver is becoming too much to bear, there are several options. Senior living communities provide varying levels of care to suit your loved one’s needs.
Options are especially available for couples. At Kensington Park, we promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. You have no reason to feel any guilt when you can no longer handle your loved one’s care on your own, because visits are always an option, and the stress of providing care is no longer in your shoes.
Our staff provide state-of-the-art therapies and are there to monitor and assist them on a 24-hour basis, so that the time you get with your spouse can be more centered on fun, carefreeness, and truly enjoying one another’s company.
If your spouse is suffering memory loss, we are here to help. Reach out today if you have any questions about our senior living options for couples.