Currently, there are around 670,000 unpaid carers of dementia in the UK, with many caring for their partner. Whether you are married or cohabiting, caring for a partner with dementia will involve adapting to new situations and watching the relationship change over time. As the disease progresses you are likely to reach new hurdles, and you may get frustrated with the changes your partner is going through. This type of care is selfless and rewarding, and by getting the right help you early on you will be able to enjoy much of your time together.
Here are ten things to think about when you are caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s.
- Get used to a routine. Your loved one will find it easier to cope with a set routine, and you will find it easier to organise your life once this is in place. Write down a detailed schedule that can be shared with other family members and care professionals.
- Make use of the help and resources available to you. Learn as much as you can about Alzheimer’s and how it progresses. You may want to reach out to organisations like the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK for assistance and information.
- Keep arguments to a minimum. Your partner may remember a situation wrong, or they may misunderstand situations. Some people with Alzheimer’s can also become irritable or easily angered, especially later in the day. Rather than engaging in an argument, try to diffuse the situation.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking on everything and refusing help from others will often lead to burn-out. Consider your partner’s care needs, and research what care or funding is available.
- Your loved one doesn’t forget everything. Whether it’s an argument or a hug, for people with dementia the feelings surrounding an event can linger much longer than the memory of it. This makes it even more important to have positive and loving interactions; the way you make your partner feel will genuinely have an impact on them.
- Get to know your partner again. Your partner’s personality is likely to change. Instead of trying to resist this, it’s better to let go of the past and accept who they are in the present.
- Let your partner be independent. Don’t focus all your thoughts on what your loved one can’t do. It might take them a bit of extra time, or they might need help, but letting people with dementia do things for themselves will help them feel independent and capable.
- Spend quality time together. Life doesn’t end with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Think about what you have enjoyed together in the past and make time for activities you can do together, whether it’s going for a walk, visiting a museum or watching a film.
- Look out for yourself. Being a carer doesn’t mean you stop being a person. Your physical and mental well-being is just as important, so you might want to consider respite care to help you out.
- Get the legal paperwork sorted. If it’s left too late, your partner may not be able to write a Will and Testament, and they may not be able to appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney. Furthermore, a will is considered invalid if the person writing it is not of sound mind at the time of its signing, meaning if not done early it may not take long before it’s impossible. This is likely to complicate matters, and you may end up feeling uncertain of what their wishes are. Even if you are married to your partner, you still need to have Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions about their care.
Getting help with the legal aspects of dementia care
Over time, Alzheimer’s will change the dynamics of your relationship, and as a carer you will most likely need to make decisions on behalf of your partner at some point. However, in order to do this the right paperwork needs to be filled in, and it’s best to complete it all while your partner is still capable of making an informed decision.
The earlier you arrange for your partner to write a Will, put Lasting Power of Attorney in place and arrange a plan for ongoing care, the less time you spend worrying about the future. At Eldermera we can arrange all your legal paperwork, as well as help with applications for funding and care services. We know that every relationship is different and every person living with dementia is an individual, so we will always ensure our services are tailored to your family’s needs.
To find out how Eldermera can help you and your partner, use our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert care advocates.
Alternatively, call us on:
Nationwide tel: 0330 022 5778
Tel: 0207 030 4923