Dear Dr. K,
I live with my wife, who has Alzheimer’s.
I don’t argue or try to correct my wife when she misremembers or confabulates but this makes for two different worlds – hers and mine – and so we have less in common and grow apart. Is this the only option or have you better advice? — D.T.
First and foremost, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done, and are doing, for your wife with Alzheimer’s. It’s not an easy journey, and she’s very fortunate to have you involved.
Your question really speaks to the relationship issues that arise in Alzheimer’s caregiving. As the disease changes your wife’s brain, this is going to change the way you and she relate to each other.
I’m glad you are looking for advice on this topic, because maintaining and improving your emotional connection can yield big benefits for both of you, in the short-run and in the long run. In fact, it’s quite possibly the most important thing that you can do for yourself and your wife.
Why maintaining an emotional connection is so important in Alzheimer’s
Feeling more connected will reduce stress for you both. This leads to three very important benefits:
- It will help your wife have the best brain function possible;
- It will help you manage caregiving challenges a little better;
- It will improve your health and well-being.
In my opinion, reducing stress and improving emotional connection can probably do more for her brain health than most dementia medications, and most conventional medical interventions. (Avoiding delirium, however, might be equally valuable.)
The mind-body-heart connection is that important!
Plus, it’s a win-win, since what improves your relationship will help reduce the stress that caregiving can put on your own health.
So, my opinion as a doctor is that this is important enough to your health, and your wife’s health, that you should seriously consider investing time — and possibly money — in this nurturing of your relationship.