They say the purest emotion a person can feel is love. Caring unconditionally for someone just because they exist is exceptionally pure and honest. And one of the best representations of this bond between two people is marriage. When you marry, you pledge never-ending trust and support to your loved one. It is then no wonder that looking after your spouse when they fall ill is an expected practice in marriage.
Dealing with a significant other that has fallen victim to Dementia can be troubling. There will be emotions flying all over the place, from joy to grief and even annoyance and anger. But love trumps all, and in this post we will be going over a few tips about caring for a spouse with Dementia. Just remember to stay calm at all times no matter how frustrating a situation may get.
Patience Is Essential
This is something that applies to all Dementia patients. Patience is the first and most important step of looking after someone with Dementia. People suffering from Dementia often become irritated very easily. They might even close up and refuse to engage in conversation. It can get tiring continuously trying to get them to talk or cooperate in other tasks. But this is where patience comes in play.
To help yourself avoid getting angry at the patient remind yourself that they are not doing this on purpose. They have experienced cognitive deterioration and don’t know any better themselves. If your spouse begins to get angry or begins to distance themselves, take a break. Back off for a few moments and let them calm down. Use this time to calm yourself down as well. And when you feel like you’re ready again give it another try. This practice will in time become second nature to you and be beneficial for both you and your spouse.
There is no shame in asking others for help when dealing with a spouse that has Dementia. Just because you stood at the altar with your significant other and said the words “I do” doesn’t make you solely responsible for everything. It is noble of you already to be shouldering this much responsibility, don’t burn yourself out. You will find that many people close to you will be more than happy to help. After all, you’re not the only one who cares for your spouse. They have family too.
Not to mention that more hands on deck will mean an overall increase in the quality of care you can provide your significant other. This way you won’t be overburdened and will be able to give it your all. And it is also healthy for a Dementia patient to be receiving attention from multiple people so that will also work in your relationship’s favor.
Prepare For Other Intimacy
This might be a bit of a heartbreaking fact for you if you didn’t know about this before. Patients of Dementia sometimes get intimate with anyone they want. If you see your spouse trying to get a bit romantic with someone, do not blow up at them. Instead, remind yourself that they do not understand what they’re doing. The concept of faithfulness and a monogamous relationship has escaped them.
Also, it’s not like they mean to cheat or anything. Depending on the severity of their Dementia they might not even understand adult relationships. It is quite well established that people with Dementia are most of the time just looking for closeness wherever they find it. They require comfort and tend to establish relationships resembling those of a parent and their child. Of course, do be careful of perfectly healthy individuals who try to take advantage of your spouse’s condition.
Act Like A Couple
Though it can get difficult keeping up with your spouse’s demands and care, take a break every now and then and do what significant others do. Go for a walk or a long drive with your spouse, given that it is safe for them to do so of course. Show affection and love. Buy them gifts or partake in their hobbies. Keeping alive some semblance of your past relationship is a great way for both of you to relax and grow closer.
Your spouse might not be the same person they once were, but they are still your significant other. Sure, tend to your duties in caring for them but also act like you would’ve otherwise. A Dementia patient might get irritated at being told what to do so doing an activity as equals and lovers can be an excellent change of pace.
Prepare For Hard Times
This is the hard truth though. There is no other way around it. Be patient, joke around, get intimate, you will still have days that just can’t end quickly enough. Caring for a patient suffering from Dementia can be taxing in of itself but when it’s your spouse it takes on an extra toll. There will definitely be days when you feel like you’re done, but then your spouse will surprise you with something witty or thoughtful and you’ll feel like it was all worth it. After all, what are loved ones for.
If you are taking care of a spouse with Dementia we wish you the best of luck. It can be a tiring process but we hope some of our advice helps you down the line. We have other articles on caring for Dementia patients too in case you’re looking for some more material. Check out the best activity aprons for dementia patients or maintaining healthy relationships in dementia and Alzheimer’s to get started.