Spouses and Dementia

Wedding Rings

In today’s world of high divorce rates, we are often heartened to see couples who have spent 40 years or more together. However, marriages that survived every hurdle are now being shaken up by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Neither Married Nor Single

In his newly published book, Neither Married Nor Single: When Your Partner Has Alzheimer’s or Other Dementia, David Kirkpatrick, a semi-retired geriatric psychiatrist, describes the scenario he and his wife Clair went through. Clair was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) when she was 66 years old. David describes how there were good days and bad days, but the lowest point in their marriage came when Clair thought her husband, David was an intruder who had broken into their home and she called the police on him. David had to seek counseling in order to cope with all the deteriorating changes in their once good strong loving marriage. Eventually, Clair was moved to long-term skilled nursing care and before she died she could not recognize David at all.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia put Emotional Burden on Spouses

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressively deteriorating brain disease that leads to more and more memory loss, an inability to reason and an inability to do even the most simple tasks. Dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and other diseases poses a tremendous emotional and financial burden on families, but no one suffers more than a spouse who has to be transformed into a caregiver and is not prepared for the emotional ups and downs of how Alzheimer’s will affect their marriage.

It is estimated that more than 5.7 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s and they are mainly cared for by voluntary caregivers who work 24/7 without financial assistance. They are usually family members and many of them are also aging spouses with their own health problems.

You are not Alone

It is essential for caregiving spouses to reach out and join support groups. The main problem is that they have very little time to go off and sit with people to get the spiritual strength they need to cope, as they must always be keeping an eye on their demented spouse who may wander off and get lost. However, the Alzheimer’s ’Association has online support available.

Respite Care

Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for memory care unless someone has spent at least three days in a hospital and then Medicare will pay for 90 days in a skilled nursing care facility. However, respite care is available so that the overburdened caregiver can get a rest. Respite care allows for a loved one to be placed for a limited time in a skilled nursing and care center. It can be for a few days or a few weeks or more.

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Syracuse, New York

The advantage, however, to going to a care facility for respite care is that it is not only a rest for the caregiver, but also gives a break to the senior suffering with dementia. Your loved one can spend some time in a warm supportive memory care center like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. You will be able to get a break knowing that your loved one will be safe and properly cared for. The Van Duyn Center also has fantastic recreational programs your loved one will be able to participate in while there. This also gives your loved one a chance to interact and socialize with other seniors.

Help with Financing

Caregivers who need financial help to cover the costs of respite solutions can contact the local Alzheimer’s Association branch to find out just what kind of assistance is available. They have a 24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900.
More financing information is available from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).


No one suffers more than a caregiving spouse who is married to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Help and support is available from the Alzheimer’s Association. Respite Care offers a break for both the caregiver and the demented spouse.

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