Since nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women, the disease has a disproportionately negative impact on women. And while women make up the bulk of those who care for this group, more and more males are finding themselves taking care of partners who have the illness. Men do confront certain particular cultural barriers, even though they are as capable of offering compassionate care to a partner who is suffering from cognitive loss.
Male caregivers may frequently be less likely to look for the tools and assistance required to make this trip in a physically and emotionally healthy way. They might attempt to carry the weight alone, which could have negative effects on both their own and their loved one's health. The following ideas and information will enable male carers of spouses dealing with Alzheimer's or other kinds of dementia.
Having a Clear Expectation
Recognizing the warning signals and accepting what lies ahead are two of the most challenging aspects of caring for a partner who is experiencing cognitive impairment. Knowing what those symptoms can mean and what you will realistically need to address each stage as it develops is crucial if you start to notice early indications of dementia-related issues in your spouse.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, a person may be able to operate independently in the early stages of the disease. Although symptoms might not be readily visible at this point, family members and close friends may notice something, and a doctor can identify signs using certain diagnostic instruments. A partner might observe their spouse having trouble coming up with the proper word or name, trying to complete duties in social or professional contexts, misplacing or losing valuable items, and having more difficulty organizing or planning.
The Alzheimer's patient will need a higher level of care as the condition worsens. The dementia symptoms worsen throughout the middle stage of Alzheimer's. Words may be mispronounced, the person may become agitated or enraged, and they may behave strangely, like forgoing a shower. It may be challenging for the person to express their thoughts and carry out simple tasks without assistance if there is damage to the brain's nerve cells. The spouse with Alzheimer's can nevertheless take part in daily activities with assistance despite the variable symptoms in this medium stage. Caretakers should think about whether they require more formal forms of help as the demand for more intensive care grows.
"Dementia symptoms are severe in the terminal stage of the illness. People start to lose their ability to react to their surroundings, to converse, and eventually, to regulate their movements. Even if they may still use words or phrases, it gets harder for them to express their pain. People may experience substantial personality changes as their memory and cognitive abilities deteriorate, necessitating intensive care. Specialized memory care is more essential than ever right now.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Male caregivers who acknowledge and start addressing these issues with a partner who has dementia or Alzheimer's disease are likely to find themselves in a novel and unexpected situation. They could be quite hesitant and unsure about how to get information and what to do to support their loved one who is battling the illness. These feelings and anxieties are all very natural and understandable.
Supporting a person who has Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia is a continuous and occasionally emotional process, according to the Alzheimer's Association. As a care partner, you can be experiencing a range of emotions, from dread to hope. The expectation of upcoming difficulties as well as thoughts about how this diagnosis may affect your life may cause emotions to surface. Recognizing your feelings will help you go on and provide the best possible life for the person with dementia.
When assuming their new job, caregivers may feel a variety of emotions, including:
Male caregivers who struggle with these kinds of emotional responsibilities may experience deterioration in their mental and even physical health. It's crucial for male caregivers to understand their own limitations and difficulties and to ask for help when it's needed to cope with this new reality, even when doing so may make them feel awkward or uncomfortable due to cultural prejudices.
Making Decisions That Are Hard
The good news is that pre-planning with your partner is a wonderful opportunity if you are a caregiver in the position of obtaining an early diagnosis for your spouse before a more progressive decrease in their cognitive abilities. Making decisions on long-term care, legal and financial matters, and other parts of the trip ahead must therefore be done while the opportunity exists.
"While having these talks can be challenging, involving the patient in the process early on can be empowering for everyone concerned. Knowing the person's preferences as their care partner might provide you peace of mind while making future decisions on their behalf. You and the individual with dementia will be better prepared the earlier arrangements are made for the future.
Be sure to bring up the possibility of memory care during these conversations (or if the disease has already advanced to the point where more extensive care is required). A senior with dementia or Alzheimer's disease may have a significant improvement in quality of life with this type of specialized care. Seniors and their families can experience precious peace of mind in high-quality memory care facilities regarding the challenging challenges that come with dealing with cognitive impairment.
One of the best things you can do if your spouse has been dealing with the start or advancement of Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia is to research the memory care options that are available in your neighborhood. To see firsthand how a memory care home can significantly improve your and your spouse's quality of life, speak with the staff, get your questions answered, and take a tour of the facilities.