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Coping With Your Spouse's Dementia Diagnosis

You’ve spent your life with your spouse. When you first met, you enjoyed nervous small talk. As you got to know each other better, you became best friends. Later on, you fell in love and started your lives together. Then, all of a sudden, time passed in the blink of an eye. Now it seems you are starting the process over and over again, unsure of what each day may bring. When your spouse has been diagnosed with dementia, it can be a stressful and emotional journey. You may not exactly know what to do, how to help or who to reach out to for support. It may be hard for you to cope with the changes you’re seeing in your loved one. Although it may seem like no one understands or can help, it’s important to know you are not alone.

According to Karen Nichols, Executive Director at The Foothills Retirement Community, a Life Plan community in Easley, SC, there are many seniors who serve as caregivers for spouses. “When seniors care for their spouse who has been diagnosed with dementia, they may see that their relationship is changing,” says Karen. “It can be difficult for their spouse with dementia to accept that they need more help from their loved one, and their caregiver may become more stressed and burnt out as a result. When serving as your spouse’s caregiver, it’s important to find effective ways to cope with the stress and changes in the relationship, both so you can decrease the amount of caregiver stress you face and to give your spouse the best care possible.”

How to Cope with a Spouse’s Dementia Diagnosis

As a dementia diagnosis can often leave you wondering how to cope, we’ve provided a few tips that can help.

  • Learn as much about dementia as you can. If you don’t know too much about dementia, or even if you do, it’s important to research and prepare for what you could face on the road ahead. Learn as much as possible about common behaviors, challenging symptoms and how to effectively help your loved one in order to be ready with knowledge whenever you need it.
  • Keep and open mind. Dementia affects everyone differently so it’s important to know that what others have experienced in their loved ones with dementia doesn’t mean you will, too. Stay positive and take each symptom one day at a time.
  • Don’t take things personally. If your spouse becomes aggressive or agitated towards you, try not to take it to heart. They do not understand what they are doing and often don’t mean to upset you. Remain calm and give your spouse some space to calm down.
  • Keep providing your spouse with support. Just like you need support, so does your spouse. Keep being there for them and talking to them about how they are feeling, ask if the need anything and just be there to listen to them. This can make them feel more valued and loved despite their disease.
  • Spend time with your spouse not being a caregiver. While being a caregiver takes up most of your day, it’s still important to spend time with your loved one as a spouse. Be sure to enjoy time together aside from caregiving. Don’t talk about dementia and instead enjoy talking about old memories you have together, do something you love as a couple or go somewhere that has significance in your relationship.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Being a caregiver isn’t always easy, so there may be times you need to talk to your children or other family members to see if they can care for your loved one for a bit while you relax, recharge or take care of things that need done. Asking for help could also be as simple as asking someone to pick up your spouse’s prescription, grab a few grocery essentials or take them to the doctor.
  • Find support. If you are still having trouble adjusting, or even if you’d simply like someone to talk to, find a support group in your area. The Alzheimer’s Association® offers educational workshops and support groups in many areas, use this locator to find one near you.

Coping with a dementia diagnosis in your spouse is rarely easy, but the more you prepare ahead, the less stressed you will be. Talk with your loved one about their options for care before their dementia progresses. Discuss if they’d like to remain at home as long as possible, if they’d prefer to have someone come in to care for them or if they’d like for the both of you to move to a community that can meet both of your changing needs. Many senior living communities offer multiple levels of care that can ensure you continue living the active lifestyle you desire while being close to your spouse in need of memory care. Even better, this option ensures your loved one doesn’t have to worry about receiving care or needing you to do everyday tasks for them, leaving them to simply enjoy their time with you.

For more information or support in coping with a dementia diagnosis in your spouse, call The Foothills. We can give you the support you deserve, while giving you the tools you need to be the best caregiver you can be. Contact us today!

Senior Care With Small-Town Charm

Welcome to The Foothills Retirement Community, a gorgeous 68-acre, full-service Life Plan Community located adjacent to Easley, South Carolina. Offering residents scenic views in an environment of natural beauty and a wide range of engaging lifestyles to match their needs, our residents live engaging lives in an environment that’s truly home.

Residents of our community enjoy the southern charm of small-town life with the connections and culture of the nearby collegiate atmosphere. At The Foothills Retirement Community, seniors don’t just receive the amenities and services they desire – they live each day to the fullest in a community that is thoughtfully designed to provide engaging opportunities all while having that small-town charm.

Longevity & Innovation as a Life Plan Community

The Foothills Retirement Community is a Life Plan Community, offering a wide range of senior lifestyles and services including independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation.

 We believe a Life Plan Community should allow future planning and living to merge. Having a plan in place – and the security of access to a continuum of health care services – grants residents the freedom to live life to the fullest.

 A Legacy of Service

As one of the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina, The Foothills Retirement Community is a compassionate Christian ministry committed to enriching the quality of life for seniors of all faiths. Built on the values of relationships, service, teamwork and excellence, we ensure our mission and faith are honored daily. While striving to create the highest quality of retirement lifestyles for our residents, we work each day to enrich the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of seniors and their families, with our deep heritage leading the way.

Learn more about The Foothills Retirement Community. Contact us today!