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Companionship With Someone Else

If your loved one becomes close to another person in the community

One of the greatest challenges of Alzheimer’s is when an individual loses the ability to recognize loved ones, including their spouse. This scenario becomes even more devastating for spouses when their loved one moves to a memory care community and, amidst the confusion and loss of memory, they find companionship with someone else.

Although this situation isn’t universal, it makes sense to prepare yourself with some coping tools if it does occur.

New Bonds in Memory Care

As Alzheimer’s progresses, a person’s ability to engage in everyday activities and maintain relationships diminishes. Individuals with Alzheimer’s do, however, need social connections just like everyone else. Moving into a new senior living community can be disorienting to someone with Alzheimer’s, and it’s very natural for them to form a bond with someone they see all the time who is experiencing the same feelings of anxiety and confusion.

This relationship may be anything from holding hands and sitting together on a couch to spending every minute together. It may not be that they are “in love,” but this connection makes them both more comfortable, supported and secure.

Coping With the Emotional Toll of Alzheimer’s

Coping with the loss of a loved one’s presence — both physical and mental — when they move into a memory care environment can be very difficult. When a new companion emerges, it may seem unbearable. Consider these tips as you deal with this new relationship:

Find support. Recognize that you may have feelings of abandonment, loss and grief. Reach out for help. Often, memory care communities host support groups for family members of residents. You can also locate a support group through the Alzheimer’s Association. These groups can be a huge source of strength and information as you gain a deeper understanding of the disease and connect with others who are touched by it.

Consider the disease. Remember that this behavior is a common part of a disease process. They are not intentionally abandoning you. They are just seeking out a very basic core need of comfort and companionship. Your spouse not only can’t

recognize their memory or feelings, but they are no longer able to make choices at that emotional level. They are simply adjusting to their situation the best way they can.

Focus on the positive. When a person with Alzheimer’s is placed in a memory care community, the separation anxiety can be profound. Finding a new companion is one way your spouse has found to adjust to a very disorienting and confusing situation. By forming this bond, they are making an effort to feel more comfortable and improve their quality of life. Be grateful that they are taking some control of their situation and getting the support and reassurance they need to thrive.

All Caregiver Resource Center staff conversations are confidential.

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