Alzheimer's art

This is a time in your married life when your husband especially needs your help and understanding. He needs a shoulder to lean on and a sympathetic ear to listen.

You may feel somewhat neglected as he diverts all his attentions to your mother-in-law; however, remember that he is being pulled in many directions and taking care of many responsibilities.

Though you may have a wonderful relationship with your mother-in-law, and you want to assist your husband in the caregiving tasks, your experience is not the same as your husband’s. You may find yourself feeling like an outsider in your own home, especially if your husband’s immediate family also becomes involved in the caregiving responsibilities.

You will be affected by the decisions being made by your husband and his siblings. His relationship with his siblings and the way they have mapped out care for their mother may bring about various emotions and personality conflicts, and from these circumstances, your husband and you may experience highly stressful situations. And, it is hurtful when you offer opinions and you may receive a response such as “this is a family matter.” Or, on the other hand, you may be in a situation in which your husband’s siblings offer little or no assistance, and the caregiving remains solely to your husband and yourself.

Supporting your husband means leaving any personal resentments, hurt feelings or anger behind. This situation will not last forever and your husband needs someone who is nonjudgmental, patient, understanding and who understands the difficult times he is experiencing in caregiving for his mom.

You and your husband are on this journey together, for better or worse. You will be a target of his varying emotions, such as anger, guilt, sadness, frustration and his fears. Remember, these emotions are his responses to his mother’s condition as this disease takes over, changes her and takes the very life from her.

Keep reminding your husband, “You’re doing a good job as your mom’s caregiver. I’m here for you. How can I help you?” Say these words gently and frequently. Allow your husband to vent his frustrations and to share what he is feeling. Additionally, give him a break from caregiving, allowing him some respite and to gather socially with friends or to enjoy a favored activity or hobby on his own.

Your husband has assumed a new role in caring for his mom. You have additionally assumed a new role — taking care of the caregiver, offering support and consoling him, loving him, lending encouragement and validation, and helping him through this unforeseeable and very difficult Alzheimer’s journey.

In those times when you find yourself quietly saying to yourself “What about me?,” take a moment, take some deep breaths and know that you are not alone. It is human to have such feelings, especially when you feel such a loss of control in your life.

Create meaningful activities with your husband and mother-in-law, find a support group to join, be affirming to yourself and what you are doing and adjust your attitude to discover new perspectives and increase positive experiences.

Questions about Alzheimer's disease or related disorders can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, owner of Dana Territo Consulting, LLC, at