This article is the third of a three-part series that I have written on couples and their communication. The first article looked at the needs of quarterlife couples, the second article addressed retirement-age couples, and the present article focuses on couples who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s; and by 2050, it is estimated that 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with it. As a result of these trends, increasing numbers of couples are faced with this formidable disease when one spouse is diagnosed with it. The memory loss and physical deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s are often difficult for couples to manage. Seeking a diagnosis as early as possible provides couples a better opportunity to communicate about and prepare for the future before the disease progresses.
Couples can begin preparing for the changes associated with Alzheimer’s by discussing these 5 topics:
1) How do you feel about finding out that one of you has Alzheimer’s disease? What are your hopes, concerns, fears, and expectations about the disease?
2) What is your understanding of Alzheimer’s disease? Have you identified ways to obtain information and support, such as peer support groups, seminars, physicians, professional counseling, and online forums? Have you contacted the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association?
3) Are there particular experiences and/or meaningful conversations you would like to share with each other before the disease progresses? When can you make time for it? What needs to happen in order for you to accomplish it?
4) Which family members, friends, and/or neighbors would you like to inform about the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s? Whom can you depend on for support over the course of the disease? Who will serve as the primary caregiver for the person with Alzheimer’s?
5) Have you discussed financial and healthcare planning? Have you completed legal paperwork, including a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy, and Living Will? What are your thoughts and feelings about long-term care, such as in-home care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes?Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's support, caregiver, caregiver support, caregiving, communication, couples, dementia, memory loss, spouse