When we exchange vows with our partner, we promise to be there through thick and thin, for better or worse. But what happens when “worse” arrives uninvited and takes the form of dementia?
Dementia doesn’t just steal memories; it erases identities and leaves you grappling with a stranger that looks like your partner but behaves nothing like them.
Navigating through the challenges of a wife living with a dementia spouse is not easy, one needs support, even if it’s just insightful information.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the raw and honest journey of a wife coping with her husband’s dementia.
My Husband Has Dementia and I Hate Him (Read this first)
Taking care of a person with dementia can be emotionally and physically taxing. Truth is, having a spouse diagnosed with dementia is nothing easy, especially for a healthy partner. Dementia is one of the most challenging health conditions seniors encounter, and it brings many changes in marriages and in families.
It is okay to feel emotionally overwhelmed and have feelings such as anger, hatred, and sadness. The main task comes with coping and managing these feelings.
If you are there with your husband who has just been diagnosed with dementia or has had it for a while, the first thing is to accept that things will get worse as time passes by.
Unfortunately with dementia, patients go from bad to worse and the condition keeps deteriorating. Caregivers have to come up with new ways to cope and manage their own feelings.
Have You Been Overlooking How You Feel?
When caring for a spouse with dementia, it is easy to get sucked into caring for them full-time and overlook how caregiving impacts your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
Mostly, when we overlook the small instances where caregiving can result in anger, frustration, and stress, these feelings may pile up and lead to resentment.
Being a wife to a person with dementia, especially one who is no longer in touch with how their behavior affects others may lead to consistent incidents of getting hurt.
For example, your husband may forget your birthday, anniversary, or even forget about your marriage. Many times, one may forgo how this makes them feel and focus on caregiving.
Neglecting emotions does not simply make them go away. Rather, it creates a building up of anger which may lead a person to think that they hate their spouse.
Why You Feel Hatred towards Your Dementia Husband
Hatred sounds like a big word, right?
Even saying that you hate your husband with dementia out loud could come off as insensitive. But for those who understand the burden of caregiving and the immense changes dementia brings into relationships, it is understandable.
The best way to process negative feelings towards a spouse with dementia is to first acknowledge them, then understand why you feel hatred. Here are a few reasons why you hate your husband with dementia:
Change In Roles
Once your husband has dementia, they can no longer be the partner you knew. If your husband took on most of the heavy responsibilities of the family such as managing the finances and affairs of the family, dementia might lead you to take on these duties.
The change in roles can lead to feelings of frustration as one partner has to take charge of everything by themselves.
Lack of Control
Dementia takes over a person, they can no longer be accountable for their behavior, personal care, or other responsibilities. It is even more difficult for the spouse to hold the dementia patient accountable when they misbehave or do something hurtful.
Also, when one cannot control the progress of the condition, feelings of helplessness and despair might build up, causing one to feel hatred about the whole situation.
One can get overcome with grief over the person you once knew your husband to be. Dementia changes people in a way that they are no longer recognizable and you have to know them all over again.
As a wife, you might feel grief about the relationship you had with your husband, making you feel negative feelings toward them.
If you are the full-time caregiver for your husband, you give up your personal life such as hobbies and relationships with friends.
While caregiving is noble and can be fulfilling to an extent, giving up your personal life might lead to feelings of regret and feeling as if you are living your life for someone else. All these sacrifices can lead to resentment.
Does this Make Me a Bad Person?
Remember that it is okay to feel angry, frustrated, resentful, sad, and any other negative feelings when giving care to your husband with dementia. Note that these feelings are not a reflection of your love for your husband but rather a response to the challenges of dementia caregiving.
The best thing is finding positive ways to cope and having proper emotional care to avoid escalation and deteriorating psychological state.
How to Cope with Negative Emotions
It is vital to have support from professionals, friends, and most importantly from people who are going through the same situation. Hence, consider joining a support group for caregivers of people with dementia.
Below are some good online communities that may be just the kind of support you need to cope with a dementia husband:
As much as you would like to be a supportive spouse, caregiving can be exhausting, so don’t hesitate to ask for help from family, friends, or professional caregivers. Taking regular breaks to recharge can improve your well-being. A good break can also give you time to reflect on how you feel toward your spouse and help you get over the cloud of negative feelings.
Due to the overwhelming effects, dementia has on you as a caregiver and a spouse, it is essential to have support from a professional counselor. Seeing a therapist can help you with coping strategies.
How do you survive a spouse with dementia?
To cope with a dementia spouse, it is important to seek help from support groups, professionals, the community, and family members. It is hard to cope with no support.
How do I maintain patience with a dementia patient?
Taking a step back and practicing deep breaths or counting from one to ten backward is a good way to prevent an individual from losing patients with dementia patient.
What are the dangers of living with a spouse with dementia?
Cognitive decline in dementia patients leads to dangerous situations such as fire accidents, falling victim to scammers, wandering, and fall accidents.