Welcome to the first of my seven ‘mini’ blogs for UK Dementia Awareness Week 2014.
Concerns that a person is developing dementia aren’t just restricted to that individual – they also affect those closest to them, bringing complex relationships into play. Over this Awareness Week I want to look at some of the emotions and reactions that underpin the difficult conversations thousands of people are having, or thinking of having, as they open up about dementia.
Day 1 – ‘From lover to carer’
Whatever your age, and regardless of whether you are heterosexual or a member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender) community, married, living together or in any other partnership relationship, seeing changes in your soul mate that indicate that they are developing dementia can produce some very stark emotions.
Most partners are together believing that they will grow old as a couple and dream of spending their lives sharing in the things they enjoy most. It is natural to look at the more confronting aspects of your partner’s long-term prognosis with dementia and imagine your life changing from being a lover to a carer.
Dementia is perceived to be a hammer blow to a relationship, but I’ve known many couples who have adjusted well and remain loving and devoted to each other throughout one or both partner’s dementia. Likewise a diagnosis, for some, can enable them to understand changes in their partner that without a medical cause could become grounds for divorce.
Opening up to a person you know about your concerns that they may be developing dementia is a conversation most people dread and many seek to postpone for as long as possible. For help and advice on how to broach the topic of dementia, read my blog post ‘Having THAT conversation’.