My Spouse Has Dementia. Does That Mean We’ll Have To Live Apart?
April 28, 2022
Your spouse has dementia and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for you to look after them at home. As much as you may hate to admit it, you’re beginning to think they’d be safer living some place where there’s 24-hour supervision.
Will this mean living apart? Not necessarily. Here are some options to consider.
Senior living options when one spouse has dementia
1. You both move to a retirement community.
You might share an apartment. Or you might live in different parts of the same retirement community but continue to see one another on a daily basis.
Let’s say your spouse is prone to wandering and sleep disturbances. Living in memory care might be the best option for them. You, on the other hand, might opt to live in an independent living apartment.
The advantages of this arrangement are that your spouse stays safe and gets the around-the-clock supervision they need, you likely sleep a lot better, and you can have a life outside of caregiving.
Perhaps you decide to participate in social activities or dining programs offered in the community. Meanwhile, because your spouse is close by, it’s easy for the two of you to continue to hook up for meals, activities, and unstructured time together.
2. You stay in your current home and your spouse moves to memory care.
This way you can continue living in a place that’s familiar to you without having to go through the process of downsizing. As in the first option, your spouse stays safe and gets the around-the-clock supervision they need without you having to provide it all yourself.
Visiting your spouse may be easy or hard, depending on how far apart you are. In between visits, you’ll be able to resume your social life or simply have some Me time. That said, living alone in your family home may be an adjustment for you. And you may feel guilty about sending your spouse “away”.
3. You both try to stick it out a little longer in your current home.
Perhaps you realize that you haven’t been making as much use of respite services as you could have. You might try enrolling your spouse in an adult day program. They get served lunch, participate in dementia-friendly activities, and maybe even get a bath. And while they’re there, you get a break from caregiving.
Or you make sure to get out of the house when an in-home support worker or volunteer drops by. Or you sign your spouse up for a week’s stay at memory care unit. It’s partly a trial run to see how they might do in that unit if they were to move there long-term. But it’s also extended respite for you.
The thing to realize, though, is that as their dementia progresses, it’s going to get much harder to look after your spouse in your home, especially in the later stages of the disease. And you don’t want to wait for a crisis before making the move.
Getting help with a difficult decision
Making these sorts of decisions can be extremely difficult. After all, you may have spent a lifetime together. You’re grieving the loss of your spouse as they were. You may be physically and emotionally exhausted, and making even small decisions can seem overwhelming, let alone monumental decisions like these.
Sometimes it’s helpful to talk with someone who understands what you’re going through. Everyday, we help people whose spouses have dementia. It doesn’t matter whether you’re considering memory care for your spouse or not. We’re here for you if you’d like to talk.