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Alzheimer`s Disease/Separation of husband and wife of 55+ years

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Question
The POA for this couple wants to separate them.  She has Alzheimer's; he has dementia.  Until December of 2012 they were "home alone"!  Husband caring for the wife and home and yard to the best of his ability.   What would you suggest to do to see if separation would help or hurt them.  I am concerned about anxiety and/or grief for each other if  separated.   Eagerly awaiting your reply,

Answer
Hello Myrtle:  This is a difficult question to answer without knowing a lot more about both of them and their current status, but based on what you've told me, here is my opinion:  If they both have a type of dementia, then I think it would be appropriate to place them into a dementia unit as a couple in the same room.  I would not separate them unless there is a danger to one of them from the other, or if one of them keeps the other one agitated all the time and argues with him/her.  There will be anxiety and grief over the loss of independence for a time--it all depends on their level of memory loss as to how long that goes on.  However, if they are separated, it would likely compound the anxiety they both feel because there would be no way to adequately explain to them why they are not together (and they would likely quickly forget any explanations).  Either way, they will settle down after awhile--again, it depends on their level of dementia, but anxiety and depression has been shown to hasten the progress of the dementia.  So, my advice is to look for placement in a facility--probably a secure facility if one or both of them can walk--together in the same room along with as much of their "stuff" as can be taken with them.  Their own blankets, recliners, lamps, pictures, etc. will all help the transition be easier.  
I wish you much luck Myrtle as you continue to advocate for this couple.  Cindy

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Expertise

As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.

Experience

I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Organizations
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Publications
Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Education/Credentials
Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

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