When Your Spouse Has Memory Problems: What To Do If You Think It May Be Alzheimer's


Watching your spouse go through any pain or problem is difficult, but if you suspect a serious decline in memory could indicate something like Alzheimer's, you have a heavy load to bear. You can't ignore the problem, as it won't go away, and you've got to reach out for the help and support that both of you need.

Start Documenting The Changes You Observe

Because minor memory issues can sometimes be attributed to age, stress and other factors, you don't want to jump to any immediate conclusions; however, as a concerned spouse, it's important to keep track of the changes you see and how frequently memory impairments are getting in the way of life:

  • Forgetting important things, such as meals or what day it is.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Giving up in frustration with tasks that shouldn't be too challenging.
  • Difficulty saying or writing things.
  • Declining judgement, with finances, for example.
  • Changing personality, particularly mood and behavior that's out of character.

There's no list of exact symptoms for Alzheimer's and it's not the only condition that can affect memory, so trust yourself when it comes to writing down the important information you need to move forward.

Speak Anonymously To A Physician

Your spouse's physician can't speak to you without written consent and it might simply be less complicated to address your concerns with a doctor neither of you know. You might call an office a few states over, asking in general terms if your concerns warrant further medical inquiry.

Ask Friends And Family To Help You Out

Depending on familial relations and how you want to handle the possibility of a real and pressing memory problem in your spouse, involve other family members or close friends, by asking them for their own observations. You don't want your spouse to feel spied on or ganged up on, so proceed with discretion and dignity.

Make Sure You Have Someone To Lean On, Too

The situation you now find yourself in can be very scary and the road ahead could be difficult; thus, it's crucial that you, too, receive the support and memory care you need. Be sure to feed yourself well, manage the stress you're under and talk to others who know what you're going through, even if it's only on internet forums. This isn't something to tackle all on your own, no matter how strong and independent you might be.

Take Your Spouse For A Professional Evaluation

At some point, you will need to voice your concerns directly to your spouse and meet together with their doctor, for a complete examination. Doctors have various diagnostic tools and methods that can help you determine, together, what kind of memory condition you're facing.

Seek Home Support Help, As Needed

If things get a little out of hand, such as your spouse becoming more forgetful around the house, warranting more intervention and responsibility for you, home support services can help. They might pick up the slack with housework or stay with your spouse while you run errands or take a break. Either way, the extra help is needed, to keep you from becoming too burdened by the stress. Don't try and do everything, all while mentally processing what's happening to your spouse.

Consider Assisted Living For Long-Term Support

Most memory-related issues don't resolve over time, which likely means your spouse's condition will gradually become more challenging for both of you. An assisted living facility might be your best option, where you can still enjoy some level of independence, while having constant access to the services your spouse's condition demands. Assisted living will also keep you together, whereas a nursing home might not. Base your decisions for care not on idealism, but rather, realism. Although you'll always be a superhero in the eyes of those closest to you, you're only human after all and can't do everything. Solicit professional opinions for the professional services that will optimize conditions for you and your spouse, for as long as possible.


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