I am the caregiver for my husband who has dementia. I’ve been caring for him for 3 years. He doesn’t talk to me unless I say something to him; he only gives a quick answer. There is no conversation. I feel like I live with a dead person. I don’t like him and I’m not in love with him anymore. I think I have emotionally divorced him. Is this normal?
Deb, please rest assured that your feelings and emotions are actually not only common, but normal. As dementia progresses, the person who is faced with caring for a loved one changing daily into someone they no longer recognize must live with, care for, love, try to communicate with and be on call 24/7 for a person who can now be a complete stranger to them.
It can be emotionally challenging and likened to someone with post traumatic stress syndrome. It is difficult to say the least to start each day not knowing what the day will bring. Who will your loved one be today? How will they respond to daily interaction and how will they have changed and progressed? At times, it can be lonely, overwhelming and exhausting and then you don’t have your loved one to confide in and lean on to help with such an overbearing task. How ironic, the one person who would have been your “go to” for such things is now the one you need support and understanding dealing with. Guilt and loneliness are also huge side effects from being the care provider for a spouse and to not like the person they have become is understandable. They might have different personalities, likes, thought processes and they just aren’t the person you have grown with and gotten to know and have expectations from through the years.
Yes it is normal, but the one thing to keep in mind is you will survive this very difficult time and must live with the choices and decisions you make now. That being said, you must also do what you need to do to survive each day as best you can. Do you have a support group? The Alzheimer’s Association in your area should be able to provide you with a group or a local church may offer one as well. If possible, talk to your clergy, a counselor or someone you trust and can be open and honest with. Exercise is also a great way to help yourself and if you are not already, try to start a routine that includes some sort of physical activity (other than laundry, dishes, yard work, etc.) Take care and stay strong.