How can I get my spouse to be more understanding of mom's Alzheimer's?


Q: How can I get husband to be more understanding of my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease?

A: I'm not sure whether or not your mother is living with you or not, but in the case of men, it is always best to approach them with facts, information, reading material and initially leave the emotion out of it.

Based on your question, her condition hasn't affected him emotionally yet. If your mother doesn't live with you and he doesn't have a close connection to her, then you might never really get what you want from him. However, it is absolutely essential that you explain to him how this makes you feel.

It is extremely difficult to watch a loved one, especially one's mother go through the struggle of Alzheimer's. It is painful and sad and you need his support. So do this for yourself. Explain what her condition does to you emotionally and in the clearest terms possible. For example: Tell him that your heart hurts and you need him to be there for you and then actually ask him for his support. Tell him exactly what you need.

Most men will do whatever you ask, but you have to ask and be clear. Perhaps he's feeling overwhelmed and doesn't know how to help you. When I expect my husband to "just know what to do," I'm often disappointed. When I ask; I'm rewarded.

Cindy Laverty is a Caregiver Coach and Founder of The Care Company, an online support website for family caregivers. Through programs, coaching and products, Cindy is dedicated to empowering family caregivers.

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As Cindy says, some men respond. Others do not. Once you've provided all the education you can with reading material and TV specials (don't overlook these -- both PBS and the networks have run them), try having him go with you to a support group (to back you up; not because he needs support: he'll never admit it). Try to find one that includes men. Or if you're already in one, try to have some of the other women bring their husbands or significant others so he will feel more comfortable.
Some people are terrified that the more they know about dementia the more likely they are to get it. This can't happen. But there's no arguing with an irrational fear -- that's what makes it irrational.
If he won't learn and he won't support you, you just have to accept it. That will free you to find help elsewhere.
Defining the problem is only half the solution. Don't give up until you find the support you need. This is going to be a long process. You are the one who needs to reach the end of it with strength to have another life.