Simple Ways to Strengthen Love Through the Alzheimer’s Journey
No one can prepare us for the experience of providing care for an ill loved one. When health issue strikes beloved life partner, there may be a sense of chaos, urgency, pain, and confusion. Disease has its way to sweep the rug right from under you. Whether chronic, acute, or psychological disorder, you’ve got a lot on your mind, heart, and plate. This is the truth in marriage. What we see in the movies about marriage being rainbows and butterflies is only half of marriage. Fear, trials, and tribulations are an immovable reality in love. And as husband and wife, it is only together that you can swim through the difficult waters without drowning.
Separation and divorce are far more common when a life partner is diagnosed with a health problem. Caring for a sick spouse tends to shake marriages to the core. The risk is that love will be undermined by health issues and essential emotional connections lost. Some spouses can become distant—physically or emotionally—as they struggle with feelings of loss, fear, and frequently, misunderstanding and anger.
By contrast, Jack Weaver is not one to separate from the love of his life because of trials. As a matter of fact, this made him stay, as exhibited in his memoir Going… Going…: The Abduction of a Mind. Loving someone with an illness, and in Jack’s case someone with Alzheimer’s, wasn’t a smooth ride. Jack and Janey went through sunny valleys of hope, into swamps of despair, mountains of happiness, making a stop at vistas of grief and relief. In the end, they remained and continued wrestling their way through the Alzheimer’s journey. But how did Jack conquer these challenges? In this post, we’ll be identifying ways to rise above and keep the love alive through the Alzheimer’s journey or in illness in general.
Listen and Share Time
Alzheimer’s disease carries with it a whole gamut of feelings: fear, anger, disappointment, hopelessness, sadness, guilt, or even shame—not only to you but also to your partner. People with Alzheimer’s often feel dependent and often resentful about that dependence. Often, this is the root of isolation and distance in relationships. A loved one may feel remorseful for putting you in a difficult situation, but there’s nothing one can do to stop or prevent Alzheimer’s. During this challenging time, even just saying a few words, lending an ear, and sharing warmth can work wonders.
Create a New Normal Together
How many times have we heard of the phrase “the new normal?” Plenty of times, for sure, especially during the pandemic. This is a perfect metaphor for the life you’ll start leading with an ill loved one. Alzheimer’s can turn lives and relationships upside down. When a loved one is diagnosed with this disease, their lives change, and those close to them are also impacted. Suddenly, the trips to groceries have been replaced by trips to doctor’s offices. Daily dynamics are forever altered, and you must find a new balance between (in)dependence and caregiving, between responsibilities and having fun, between sharing experiences and doing things separately.
Never Stop Making Memories
Often when we hear stories of people living with Alzheimer’s, it starts with the slow demise of memories. Alzheimer’s can rob your spouse of precious memories. Every day, a memory etched in one’s mind is erased forever. While you can create a memento bank to preserve memories, sometimes creating new memories with a loved one works wonders. See, the story doesn’t stop at the diagnosis. What matters is that your beloved spouse is there. Think of sharing new experiences as long as you possibly can. Share things they once loved and invite them to a new journey in life. Create moments of joy when you engage loved ones in meaningful activities.
Be Gentle with Yourself
If you want to keep your love strong through the journey, stay emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy. Regretting and beating yourself up for past actions can take its toll. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. After all, you’re still human. When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, it may be hard to know what the future holds. There will be times of wavering between hope and fear. Reach out to your support system, and allow others to help. Take the best care of yourself during this trying time.
When you’re absorbed by pain and sorrow, it can be hard to focus on much else—and that’s understandable. Still, take a moment each day to remember your vows and the life you’ve shared together. Cherish those moments and keep them close to your heart, and love will surely perpetuate.