9 Best Ways of Taking Care of a Husband with Dementia

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by Alycia Gordan, a writer for BrainTest which is a cognitive screening site designed to detect early stage changes in cognition associated with alzheimer’s disease, dementia. Edited by Jeff Campbell

Looking for tips on taking care of a husband with dementia?

Picture someone with dementia, and most people think of a friendly old man or woman who keeps repeating themselves.

In reality, people with dementia disorder display a wide spectrum of behavior.

Some might have angry outbursts, while in others, the behavior could have physical manifestations. That’s why it can be difficult for caregivers to follow a set of rules to ensure their loved one is getting the best care possible.

Things become even more complicated when the caregiver is trying to take care of a spouse with dementia.

Luckily if your spouse has been diagnosed with dementia, the future doesn’t have to be bleak. There are things you can do to make the situation better for both of you.

In this post, we’re diving deep into how to care for someone with dementia. Specifically, we’re looking at taking care of a husband with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

What is dementia?

When a loved one gets diagnosed with dementia, it means they have a brain disorder that can cause issues with behavior, decision-making and memory.

Dementia is a syndrome and can be brought about by a number of different diseases that affect the brain.

It typically gets worse over time. However, medications may decrease the worsening of symptoms. Thus getting diagnosed early is key.

There are a number of different types of dementia, and the possible treatments vary depending on which type they have.

If you are taking care of a husband with dementia, make sure you understand the exact diagnosis and treatment options.

Are Alzheimer’s and dementia the same thing?

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Doctors believe that 60% to 80% of people with dementia are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Thus, while they have a lot of similarities, there are some brain conditions that create the symptoms of dementia that are not tied to Alzheimer’s.

Ove 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms of someone with Alzheimer’s can be:

  • Memory loss
  • Trouble planning and doing familiar tasks.
  • Confusion over the day, time or year
  • Issues speaking or writing
  • Poor judgment
  • Irritability and moodiness

Now that we understand better, let’s review the . . .

9 Best Ways of Taking Care of a Husband with Dementia

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1. Find hobbies and interests that you share

Did you and your husband share an interest or a hobby before their dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis?

Find out if they would still like to do that with you.

If they liked cooking, then ask them to help you make a meal. You can also go for walks or do some gardening if that is what they prefer.

Other hobbies you two could indulge in include playing board games, caring for pets, and even having their favorite friends over.

Experts recommend caregivers can connect with your spouse through art.

Thus taking care of a husband with dementia doesn’t have to mean the end of doing everything you loved to do together.

2. Learn how to deal with angry outbursts – yours!

According to this poll, at least 85 percent of dementia caregivers find taking care of a loved one or friend with dementia a rewarding experience.

This touching article is just one example of a wife helping her husband with his day-to-day cognitive issues after his brain test for dementia came positive.

However, almost 80% of the people from the poll mentioned above also find their role as a caregiver stressful.

Being stressed out can take its toll on even the best spouse or caregiver’s patience. So look for any of the following signs in yourself:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Speaking loudly
  • Muscles tensing up
  • Tingly sensation in your body
  • Feeling like hitting the other person
  • Clenched fists or jaw

When you spot such signs, take a deep breath, and recognize that you are getting angry. Then try some of these tips before you respond to your husband:

  • Recognize that people with dementia can be unpredictable and inconsistent with their behavior
  • Take a deep breath and focus on communicating as clearly as possible
  • Walk away and give yourself time to calm down. If taking a 5-10 min break is possible and useful, then do that. If they can deal with your being away for longer, then consider the second option. It is recommended getting your loved one to accept support from others while you cool down
  • You don’t always have to respond when they are being difficult. Alternatively, you can choose to respond in an assertive manner
  • Remind yourself that they aren’t likely doing this to make you angry

When you return to interacting with them, make sure they see how much you care about them.

Focus on your own facial expressions, physical touch, and tone of voice so that message is clear.

The 36-Hour Day is an award-winning book, now in its 6th edition.

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It’s a Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss published by Johns Hopkins.

4.5 stars and upwards of 200 reviews on Amazon Prime can’t be wrong! Available in hardcover, paperback or kindle.

3. Use any and all resources at your disposal

A website that offers a brain test for dementia is a great resource that helps caregivers like yourself find support, so you can continue taking care of your spouse.

But there are a lot of resources available online for those caring for someone with dementia.

AARP offers various services for dementia caregivers. Whether you want help online or in-person, you can find it here.

WebMD also offers a wealth of knowledge and guides walking you through the different types of dementia and tips on how to care for those affected by it.

During this time, it can be easy to feel sorry for yourself and your loved one.

When we feel sorry for ourselves, that can easily start a downward slide into anger, negativity, and depression.

Feel your feelings. Have an outlet for your stress. But don’t let yourself stay in a negative space. A positive attitude is one of the Key Differences of Successful People vs Unsuccessful People.

So if you need some tips and tools to help improve your mental state during this challenging time, take a moment and review the tips outlined in that post.

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4. The painful truth of dealing with confusion

Your spouse may become confused about the time/place due to memory loss and insist that they are taken home.

Another reason for this demand could be an attempt to going back to a time when they were more in control of their life. When that happens, it is best to indicate to them that they are confused.

Use pictures and tangible things to remind them where they are.

It is all about making them feel safe. This can happen if you have recently had to move and changed houses.

What you should avoid doing is giving someone a lengthy explanation about their condition. You shouldn’t expect that you’d be able to reason with them either.

In fact, doing these things might trigger the confused response that you want to avoid.

5. The proven power of exercising together

We all know about the multiple benefits of regular exercise.

Turns out, all those benefits, such as improved blood flow to the brain, also apply to people with dementia. If you can exercise with them, you might be helping them manage symptoms of the disease. We suggest going on walks together.

6. Help without taking away their independence

The early stage of dementia is different for every person who goes through it. However, it is often seen that individuals with dementia need cues and reminders to help jog their memory. Taking care of a husband with dementia means getting involved to ensure they:

  • Keep their appointments
  • Manage their finances
  • Remember names, places, or people
  • Take their medications on time

We suggest that you do that by establishing communication, instead of completely taking over.

Your objective should be to maximize their independence. If, for example, they assure you that they can manage their checkbook, let them do that. Just ask to give a final review once they are done.

7. Interacting the right way

Certain actions might improve the way you interact with your spouse. Blogs and dementia websites can be useful in this regard. Look for people in a similar situation sharing their personal experiences.

While you listen to others though, don’t forget to listen to what your husband has to say. The following tips can improve the communication between you two:

  • Keeping background noise to a minimum
  • Expressing love through touch
  • Maintaining eye contact when conversing
  • Speaking calmly and slowly

Above all, don’t let your loved one see the anger, frustration, and sadness that can be normal for you to feel sometimes.

Even though taking care of a husband with dementia can be challenging, there can still be a lot to be grateful for. The Benefits of Being Appreciative can improve not only this aspect of your life but your whole life in general.

8. Remember the good old days

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Ease their worries and bring comfort to your husband by bringing up the past.

It can be difficult to remember more recent things since their brain has problems with short-term memory. Asking them questions like what they had for lunch may only frustrate them.

Instead, jog their memory by asking them about their more distant past. Look at family photo albums with them and reminisce together.

You likely both have great memories together and this is a great way of connecting while taking care of a husband with dementia.

9. Anticipate and prevent problem behavior

If you can find out the triggers leading to problematic behavior, you may be able to sidestep or prevent them.

Look for clues, such as what happened right before an angry outburst.

Certain times of day, certain seasons or certain events, such as bath time, could be the answer to your questions too.

Get the #1 book on Amazon Prime for caregivers of those with dementia.

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Did we cover all your questions about taking care of a husband with dementia?

In this post, we looked at the crucial steps of dealing with a spouse with dementia.

Taking care of a husband with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very challenging even for the most experienced caregiver. We looked at tips for self-care and strategies for making the most of your time together.

Taking care of a husband with dementia doesn’t have to be sad and lonely. While it’s not the same experience you had together earlier in life, you can still do things together and enjoy one another’s company and minimize the confusion or anger that can sometimes accompany this condition.

About the author of this post.

taking care of a husband with dementia Alycia Gordan headshot Middle Class Dad

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness, and lifestyle.

She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

Want to write for Middle Class Dad too? Check out everything you need to know on my Guest Blog Page.

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

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taking care of a husband with dementia Jeff Campbell bio Middle Class Dad

While Alycia is a contributor to BrainTest which performs cognitive tests for dementia and is run by Board Certified Physicians, neither she nor I are doctors, psychiatrists or mental health professionals. This post, like all my posts, is based on my research, consultation with experts, opinions, and observations. If you need medical or professional advice you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.
Photo credits which require attribution:
Dementia – Recognising the signs and symptoms of dementia by Number 10 is licensed under CC2.0

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