Marriage between two seniors who both have different stages of dementia.

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My mother moved into an assisted living facility about two months ago. She has decided she and her dining partner are in love and they want to be married. They have been inseparable since meeting and have decided they want to be together. Now, she is still calling him by the name of a former love, and he doesn't seem to mind...what should we do?


This very situation is happening in a community I work with! How wonderful for both of them. If they are (or were) churchgoers, do either of them (or one of their children) have a good relationship with a sensitive pastor who might be willing to perform a ceremony? I'm sure the community would love to host a nice wedding for them! In my opinion, there's no reason for them to enter a legal marriage. At this stage of the game, it would only complicate their families' future handling of their estates.
Of course, depending upon the nature of their dementia, they may be content to just happily plan a wedding indefinitely. Whatever makes them happy. What a blessing to have the joy of companionship at that stage of life!
This must be a very difficult situation for you. At the best of times, when a parent finds someone new it can be very challenging but here, when dementia is involved, it makes it far more difficult.

I cannot say for sure because different states, let alone different countries (I am from Australia) may have different laws, but I would imagine that once she was diagnosed with dementia, she would not be legally enabled to commit to any contract, including marriage. If so, then this would at least remove that outcome. It would be wise to investigate that.

One approach is to be generally supportive but not necessarily encouraging - e.g. yes Mum, he is nice, Dad would probably like him. If she plans on 'marriage' then keeping it 'in the future' or 'perhaps one day' might manage the situation. I'd resist outright pressure because she may well kick her heels in. Reinforce the relationship that she had with your father, keep that memory as alive as you can.

At the end of the day, though, her happiness is important and if she can find that happiness then it might be a trade-off with the sorrow it could cause you. That can be hard of course but remember that much of it is probably related to the dementia.
If they want to get married, make it a huge reception and spend lots of their OWN money that THEY worked for...this isn't a matter of "complicating the inheritance", I will put it mildly, if he can still get it up, intimacy is something you NEVER forget how to do, kinda like riding a bike...I WISH I had this dilemma to deal would be one of the happiest days of my Mother's life!...their money should be planned around THEM while they are living, if there is anything else left when they depart this life, donate it to the elderly who do not have the strength to lift their heads off of their pillows. MARK 10:9 "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Many blessings to the new couple!
I would check into Social Security too if that is what they recieve for income. I know many seniors who purposely don't get married because the wife can lose some of her SS income if she is was widow and remarries. Her SS went up when husband died-if she remarries and loses it-how will it effect her and the new hubbies living at ALF? Could any pensions also be lost too if a widow remarries? Just thinking of their best welfare not what will be left for inheritance!
Sounds adorable-but may not be in their best interest financially. I like the idea of going along with it and holding a ceremony(that is not legalally binding) and letting them do their thing! Happiness to them!
I agree at this stage and age nothing should become legal; financially it would complicate their individual finances; plus depending upon the stage they are in they probably can do anything legally binding. Since they are suffering from dementia it is likely that the family members would have to set up beneficiaries, who to leave money to etc. Sounds very messy. I would do a nice ceremony with the sympathetic pastor to do a non legal companion ceremony.
Am I the only one that feels it's foolish for her mom and boyfriend to get married? I agree, that it's wonderful she has found someone to care about and that it makes both of them happy, but I bet you if you asked her (and probably him, too) 10 to 15 years ago that she would be wanted to marry someone she met in an assisted living home after only 2 months, that she wouldn't believe it. My father has been reaquainted with his old high school flame and it's been very hard dealing with his constant obsession with her. He is 91 and lives we us and it's not easy trying to get him out of his fantasy world. I'm glad he is happy and enjoying this new found relationship, but his obsession is hard to deal with on a daily basis. Bottom line, I don't think I would too happy about them wanting to get married, because I think under normal circumstances they probably wouldn't. With that said, I think it's wonderful that she has found someone to care about and his happy. I just think there is no point to getting married. But this is just my own opinion, and maybe I'm the only one that feels this way.
gendee, you are not alone in your opinion. I know your post is from long ago but clearly legal marriage makes no sense at this age mostly due to the legal and very real issues with each persons financial situation. A spouse is legally obligated to care for their husband or wife and required to pay their medical bills which could certainly impact future health care of the spouse. In either case they will both require significant help going forward.

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