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Keeping Spouses Together

Elderly African American Man and woman posing together

Elderly African American Man and woman posing together

Married couples want to stay together.  However, this can sometimes be difficult.  Sometimes one spouse needs care and the other doesn’t.  Other times they might both need care but one spouse might need a lot more than the other.  If one spouse suffers from some type of dementia it can complicate the situation.

While these scenarios might seem difficult it is possible to plan care that accommodates both spouses while keeping them together under the same roof.  This can be done both at home and in a long term care community.

If they are staying home then a plan needs to be put in place that addresses the needs of each spouse.  Too often people focus on the sick spouse and neglect the needs of the caregiver spouse. The caregiver spouse must not over do it caring for the other spouse.  He or she will need a lot of help and support either from family, volunteers or paid caregivers. You must avoid the leapfrogging phenomenon.  That’s where the well spouse becomes sicker than the spouse they’re caring for (or even passes away) due to lack of self care.

A good alternative to staying home is for both spouses to move into a continuing care retirement community.  These communities, also known as a CCRC’s, can meet the respective needs of both spouses.  The benefit is that the well spouse won’t be the primary caregiver for the spouse who needs care.  The staff at the community has that job.

If the couple moves into assisted living apartment together but one spouse’s health declines that spouse can move into a higher level of care somewhere in the community.  That provides the flexibility to meet the needs of both spouses while keeping them both under the same roof.

No matter what, it’s possible to provide both spouses with the care they need in the same place.  They may not be in the same room but they can be in the same community under the same roof.  It may take some planning but it can be done.  And it can lead to a high quality of life for everyone involved.


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