Labor of Love: Caring for a Partner with Alzheimer’s

Local Woodlands, TX resident Kitty Hammons knows first-hand the demands associated with being a caregiver.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it can be a particularly sentimental time for those living with Alzheimer’s and their spouse or partner, as they adjust to dual roles as both romantic partners and care partners. The day is also a reminder that love is not only what brings couples together and helps them build lives together, but love can also be what keeps a care partner and their loved one going through this difficult journey.

According to the recent Alzheimer’s Association Facts & Figures, caregiving responsibilities often persist for many years – even decades. Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias provide care for a longer time, on average, than caregivers of older adults with other conditions. Consequently, more than six in 10 (63 percent) of Alzheimer’s caregivers expect to continue in their care responsibilities for the next five years compared with less than half of caregivers of people without dementia (49 percent).

Local Woodlands resident Kitty Hammons knows first-hand the demands associated with being a caregiver. Hammons is a full time caregiver, both professionally and personally. She works full time at a local memory care facility helping families provide the best life for their family members suffering from debilitating memory loss. After a full day of providing care for others, she goes home to care for her wife who suffers from vascular dementia. After suffering a severe stroke, Hammons’ wife began struggling with a resulting form of dementia.

Vascular dementia is a change in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels. Vascular dementia is widely considered the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 10 percent of cases. Many experts believe that vascular dementia remains underdiagnosed — like Alzheimer’s disease — even though it’s recognized as common.

As a member of the LGBT community, Hammon’s is aware of the added struggles of being a caregiver for her partner. For some LGBT individuals, a family of origin is not present in their lives and cannot be relied on during difficult times.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips for couples facing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia:

  • Continue participating in as many activities as you can together, both old and new.
    Adapt activities as needed to make them comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Talk with your spouse or partnerabout what kind of help you would like from him or her now.
    Also discuss what you can still do on your own.
  • Work with your spouse or partner to put together information you may need later regarding caregiver services and costs.
    Organize documents you may need into a file. When considering future services include housekeeping and respite (caregiver relief) care. Start your search for local services, resources and programs by using our online Community Resource Finder.
  • Discuss any role changes in the relationship with a professional counselor or clergy member.
    Include changes in your intimate feelings or ways of connecting.
  • Explore our Caregiver Center 
    This is an online resource where your spouse or partner can learn more about caregiving issues and get tips.
  • Attend early-stage and/or caregiver support groups through your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.
    Sometimes befriending another couple in the same situation offers new possibilities for support.
  • Connect with others. 
    You and your spouse/partner can connect with others on our online message boards, ALZConnected. Also, stay connected with family and friends.

The Alzheimer’s Association is here to provide support and resources for couples facing Alzheimer’s disease. Resources are available online, in person and on the phone – wherever caregivers are most comfortable accessing information when they need it most.

When Alzheimer’s touches your life, we are here for you. Please visit us online at alz.org or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900

AlzTex Admin

The Alzheimer's Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter (www.alz.org/texas) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.