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Caring for a Spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

As the disease progresses and Alzheimer’s symptoms change – your relationship will too

When any friend or family member receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it can be challenging to accept. When this person is your husband or wife, the impact is especially difficult. You may find yourself taking on the role of caregiver or begin to notice changes in your relationship. Memory care specialists are uniquely aware of the way ever-changing Alzheimer’s symptoms impact you, your spouse, and your marriage.

It is common for a spouse to assume the role of caregiver when their husband or wife receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. A spouse is often the first to recognize Alzheimer’s symptoms in their loved one, including behavioral changes, forgetfulness, confusion, and even depression. These changes in your spouse are bound to change your relationship, family life, and careers.

Caring for a Spouse: Stephene Moore and former U.S Rep. Dennis Moore’s Story

Dennis Moore is a lifelong Kansan, having served six terms in the U.S House of Represented for Kansas’s 3rd District. His wife Stephene has worked as a nurse, focusing on women’s health, for more than 25 years. In 2012, Dennis was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

After his diagnosis, Dennis retired from his position to focus on his health. He and his wife spoke with local radio station KCUR 89.3 to discuss the Alzheimer’s symptoms he experiences, his diagnosis, and what it means for them. To listen to their complete interview, visit KCUR by clicking here.

What We Can Learn

Dennis and Stephene’s experience with Alzheimer’s is unfortunately not an uncommon story. However, there is plenty that spouses and families can take away from the Moore’s story and apply to their own situation.

  1. Recognize and report Alzheimer’s symptoms
    You know your spouse better than anyone else. If you begin to notice changes in their behavior that are related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t be afraid to speak up. While your loved one may deny any changes or symptoms, speak with a medical professional about your concerns. An early diagnosis can often help you both prepare for the future.
  2. Make the tough decisions early on
    While it is not always possible, an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help you and your spouse make plans for the future. Talking to employers and family members about the diagnosis is important. You can decide together when the best time to stop working will be. Investigate insurance and other financial aid benefits available. Although it is difficult, making decisions about palliative and hospice care while your spouse is still well enough is essential. Making these tough decisions early on will be helpful for you both as the disease progresses.
  3. Support for your changing relationship
    Cognitive regression, behavioral changes, and need for outside care assistance will inevitably cause changes in your relationship. You may find yourself grieving for the loss of your spouse as their memory worsens. Talking with family, friends, and even professionals can help you cope. Local support groups offer resources such as support groups for the family members of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

Caring for a loved one, especially a spouse, with Alzheimer’s is a challenging and often stressful responsibility. Know that you are never alone. There are professionals trained and experiences in providing Alzheimer’s care and support available to help.

For more information about memory care services provided by ComfortCare Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532.

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