Spousal Care Partner Entering the World of Dementia

Care Partner Tips       Care Partner or caregiver is the new role a spouse assumes once their spouse or other loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or other type of Dementia. As it occurs more often in Older Adults, other aspects of aging and health issues are also present.

They don’t have any specific training or background in caregiving or in cognitive impairment. Many wing it, learning as they go along. Others get educated by reading (The 36 Hour Day), going to seminars, researching on their own and asking many questions of doctors. In larger cities, there are often many resources. This is particularly true in South Florida, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have Day Care centers, Memory programming and many in-home care companies. Some Care Partners bring other help, either family members or a home health aide to assist with the care and provide them with respite time.

In the beginning stages of AD, short term memory deficits are the most obvious symptom and usually that is what gets the person to a Neurologist for testing. As the disease progresses, other symptoms appear, there may be hallucinations from Lewy Bodies,  fear, anxiety, anger, aggression, wandering,  greater confusion, mistrust and so forth as the person loses more of their cognitive abilities or thinking powers. These one their own are difficult to manage and even more so as folks exhibit more than one symptom at a time.

Look for the Triggers Causing a Change in Behavior

Although many mood changes seem to be random, often there is something triggering the change. It can be:


Change in temperature

Experience of pain or discomfort

Changes in the physical makeup of the home or a room

Shadows as day fades into twilight

Hunger or need to use the restroom

A different routine

Imagine having any of these things happen and you can’t make sense of it or you cannot express your feeling or need.  You may act out or become more introverted.

Solutions for the Triggers

Keeping to a routine is very important for a person with cognitive impairment. It helps them to keep some semblance of order.

Be aware of “sun downing”- keep rooms well lite, close the shade or curtain

Notice whether a neighbor’s television noise is in your home too.

Running a dishwasher or doing laundry in evening or at night can cause noises which are disruptive.

Ask simple questions about need to use bathroom, wanting to eat, whether room is too hot or cold.

Try your best to make your loved one comfortable. Offer reassurance and know that you are doing your best in a difficult situation.