10. Maintaining a healthy relationship
Living with dementia can put a strain on relationships, both for the person with dementia and for their partner, particularly if they are in the early stages of dementia. However, there is plenty you can do to maintain a positive relationship. Spending time apart socialising, or keeping up with satisfying or creative pursuits can boost each partner's self-esteem and give them something to share with the other. Taking part in activities as a couple or a family unit can also help people focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. Such examples could include putting together photo albums, joining a local group, or going on day trips.
It is also important that you both have plenty of support to help you adjust to any changes. If you are worried or upset by something, discussing your feelings and concerns with someone who understands can often help.
Consider talking your feelings through with:
- friends and family - choose to talk to someone who you feel might understand
- your GP, social worker or community nurse - they may be able to explain why the dementia is causing particular changes to you or your partner
- a counsellor or therapist - you and your partner may be eligible for referral through your GP, or contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (see 'Other useful organisations', below).
- a helpline adviser - Alzheimer's Society's National Dementia Helpline (0300 222 11 22) can provide information and advice as well as pointing you towards other organisations that could help. The helpline advisers offer support to all people with dementia and carers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people
- a carers' support group - if you are the carer of someone with dementia, you may find it helpful to discuss how you feel with other carers, who may well be experiencing similar emotions. In some areas, carers' centres also offer opportunities to talk to someone in private. Details of local groups are available from Alzheimer's Society's National Dementia Helpline - 0300 222 1122