Alzheimers and Family relationships
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- Alzheimers, Family relationships
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Alzheimers and Family Relationships
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be shattering for the whole family. As the disease progresses your loved one may have difficulty communicating, their personality may change and they may feel lost and confused. This will impact husbands, wives and children in different ways. All may feel a sense of loss for the person they loved and apprehension for the challenges ahead. The truth is that your relationship with your loved one will change; however with care and support it can still be rich and rewarding.
Coping as a spouse
Intimacy and sex: Seeing your life partner start to fade away can be particularly painful. You may feel terrible sadness about the way your relationship has changed. As your partner’s memory and cognitive function declines you may not be able to have the same amount of physical and emotional intimacy that you once shared. This may leave you feeling hurt and rejected.
People with Alzheimer's disease often experience changes in their sex drive. A combination of depression and illness may decrease sexual desire. Conversely some individuals make experience higher levels of sexual arousal and interest and may act inappropriately. This can be upsetting and embarrassing for caregivers who may have lost sexual desire because of the demands of caring and the changes in their partner's personality.
Try not to feel guilty and stressed if your sexual attraction to each other has changed. You can find other ways to enjoy time together and maintain your relationship. Consider an in-home carer to help with the practicalities and chores in the house, so that you have the time and space to be together,
Changing roles and responsibilities: As the dementia progresses your partner may be unable to cope with their usual role in the household. You may need to take on tasks like paying bills, handling financial and legal matters and doing household chores. Making important decisions without the support and input of your loved one can be stressful and difficult.
Be prepared for and anticipate these changes. Organise family finances and paperwork as soon as your loved one is diagnosed. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for practical and emotional support.
Coping as a son or daughter
Providing care for a parent with dementia can be challenging and may bring out the very best and the worst in family members. It can be difficult to adjust to the changing roles and gradually adapting to become the carer instead of the person who was cared for. You may also have to support your other parent who may be grieving the loss of the partner they loved as well as coping with your own feelings of sadness and loss.
It can help for siblings and parent to work together to support each other and share the strain. Try to avoid conflict and blame, instead be realistic and work together to use all your individual strengths and abilities. Keep all family members informed regarding any health problems or issues.
Be appreciative of everyone’s contribution and understand that you are all different and act in different ways. Seek in home support or respite care, so that everyone has time to rest and recover. Together you can share the burden of responsibility and continue to care, cope and come together as a family.
References and Further Research
Find out more about the range of dementia care services that we offer throughout London.