The Emotional Toll of Alzheimer's
When Alzheimer's patients build new bonds in a nursing home, it can have a serious impact on a family.
How Alzheimer's Affects Families continued...
Still, there's a silver lining, and that is in knowing that your loved one
has found some comfort, even if it's with another person.
"As a spouse, you have to remember that it's not that your husband or
wife is rejecting you, or that they don't care about you anymore, but they lack
the ability to recognize these memories or their feelings," says Powers.
"It's the disease; it's not personal."
For the children of Alzheimer's patients, struggling to come to grips with
not only their parent's disease, but also their parent's new companion in the
nursing home, can be just as devastating.
"Sometimes adult children can have a harder time with it than the
spouse," says Schempp. "It's difficult to deal with feeling like your
mom or dad has been replaced."
As a spouse or a child, it's important to come to grips with the disease and
how it affects a person's brain and body.
"Alzheimer's patients need social connections and bonds just like
everyone else," says Reed. "They can still form new connections, but
the behavioral and emotional changes they are experiencing mean they respond
and react to their new -- and old -- connections in different ways."
Coping With the Emotional Toll of Alzheimer's
Coping with the loss of a loved one's presence -- both physical and mental
-- when she's placed in a nursing home is hard. Even more difficult is dealing
with a new companion she may have found. Experts offer tips for dealing with Alzheimer's
disease, a loved one's newfound bond in a nursing home, and its impact on your
Remember, it's a disease. "Deal with it as part of a disease
process -- it's not a conscious decision to abandon you," says Powers.
"It's important to think about the person not being able to make choices at
See the silver lining. "Think about how your spouse is finding
comfort in their new companion, and even if it doesn't make you feel good,
remember that it is probably a nice feeling for them," says Schempp.
Find support. "The Alzheimer's Association encourages people to
reach out for help," says Reed. "We offer community support programs
and online resources for families who have been affected by Alzheimer's