(This article is part 2 of a special guest series by geriatrician Dr. Nicole Didyk, founder of the blog and YouTube channel The Wrinkle. Like me, Dr. Didyk has a particular interest in informing and empowering older adults and families. So I’ve been very glad to have her contributing to the site these past few years — you may have noticed she’s been helping me answer comments — and I’m thrilled to say she’ll be covering some topics that I haven’t yet had the time to address. Enjoy! — L. Kernisan)
Let me begin by sharing a true story:
One of the most unforgettable couples I ever worked with was Grace and David. Grace developed Alzheimer’s at the age of 63, and within 2 years of diagnosis, her symptoms were such that she moved into a long-term care home and used a wheelchair to get around.
She and David had been married for 42 years, had 4 kids, a dairy farm, and a warm and affectionate marriage. David continued to visit Grace 3 times a week, until her death (after a bout of pneumonia) at the age of 69, and in the last two years, his girlfriend, Linda, accompanied him almost every time.
I remember being so touched by the way that David and his new partner lovingly advocated for Grace when she needed it, with both stepping in to provide hands-on care when staff at the home were overwhelmed. There were some who judged David for so boldly “having an affair”, but most saw his involvement in a new relationship as a much-needed respite for him, and a way to expand the circle of love for Grace.
Have you ever met a couple like Grace and David? Keep their story in mind, as I share more about Sex and Caregiving, and Sex and the Changing Brain.