When Your Spouse Has Dementia, Part II

spouse with dementia intimacyPart I of this series covered the emotions you might experience when putting a spouse into memory care.

When your spouse moves out of the home you’ve shared and into memory care, you’ll need to work on building a new relationship, one that may not be the same as the one you’ve grown used to, but can still give you a connection to your life partner.

You may find that your spouse no longer knows who you are. As heartbreaking as that is, they likely can still recognize you as an important person in their life. Don’t worry too much about convincing them of who you are, as this will likely only lead to frustration. Regardless of whether they know you as you, you’re still important. You’re probably the one they see most often, and they know that you care about them a great deal. It may be hard to accept, but know that that might be the highest honor your spouse can give you in their current state. Your visits, even if your spouse isn’t aware of them or doesn’t register their significance, are now the most important way of honoring your marriage.

It’s possible to find new ways of enjoying intimacy with each other. A good care facility should give you ways of having uninterrupted time alone. Furthermore, now that you no longer have the burden of being your spouse’s primary caregiver, you can focus on the relationship the two of you have. You can be there for them in other ways beyond taking care of basic functions. You may even find that this new focus on love itself, without day to day hassles, brings you even closer than you were before, and eliminates feelings of guilt and resentment.

Though it’s important to nurture your marriage, it is also crucial during this time that you care for yourself. While your spouse was still at home, you likely put off your own needs and desires, and now is the time to remedy that. Make sure that you address any of your own neglected health needs, both physical and mental. As you probably know, you can only help someone else if you help yourself first.

There is no cure for dementia, but despite this a move to memory care can result in healing for both of you. You may not only be caring for your loved one’s condition, but also for the health of your relationship.