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“Because Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are progressive in nature, a loved one with the disease will undergo many physical and emotional changes,” says Steve Carney, Wellness Director Administrator of Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA.
“These changes, in turn, will cause potential issues in the person’s relationships with their spouse, other family and friends. The greatest relationship changes are usually felt by the person’s spouse who is suddenly transformed from partner to caregiver. For them, this change in relationship becomes the new normal.
“Therefore, to plan and prepare for the changing relationship occasioned by Alzheimer’s, it is important to gain an understanding of the specific characteristics of each unique stage of the disease.”
The Mayo Clinic® and the Alzheimer's Association® explain that Alzheimer's disease progresses slowly through three basic stages. These are defined as mild (early stage), moderate (middle stage), and severe (late stage).
As a result of the physical, mental and emotional changes experienced in each stage, there will also be inevitable changes in the relationships between family members, friends and the individual with Alzheimer’s.
These physical changes through the stages typically result in major changes to longstanding family and spousal relationships, including role reversals that can be uncomfortable and stressful. For example, a husband who now must pay the bills and balance the checkbook or a wife who now needs to manage the maintenance and upkeep of the home and property. Sexual relations also decline as a result of Alzheimer’s progressive effects.
Adult children can also be impacted by having to assume legal, financial and healthcare decisions for a parent with Alzheimer’s – essentially becoming the parent of their parent.
The Alzheimer’s Association® provides a variety of useful suggestions for spouses and others in maintaining a productive relationship with the person living with Alzheimer’s for as long as possible as they move through the three stages. For example:
“Although the progressive effects of Alzheimer’s cannot be stopped,” says Steve, “Following these expert tips can help you to have a meaningful relationship with your loved one for as long as possible.”
If you have comments or questions about our blog on Alzheimer’s and changing relationships through its stages, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.
Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.
Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.
If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.
If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.
For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404 or contact us online.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.