If your spouse is younger than 65 and has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you may feel in a world all your own. You probably don’t know anyone else in this situation and may sense a social stigma. It can be scary. Lonely. And feel just not fair!
Look for a support group. You are not alone. In a support group, you’ll find others who understand, as well as valuable tips and strategies. Check out the Alzheimer’s Association to find in-person, virtual, and hybrid groups. Try to find early-onset gatherings. (This is very different from “early stage.”) You might also check out WellSpouse.org specifically for caregiving partners.
Involve your friends. You need them now—more than ever. And yet they may feel uncertain of what to say or do. Let them know specifically what you need. Perhaps just someone to listen, let you cry when you want. Or maybe you need them to continue including you and your partner in get-togethers. Offer them guidance on best strategies for interacting with your spouse so they can feel more confident about what to expect and how to respond.
Find professionals to help. There are some big issues to tackle, and the time is now to work on them with your partner. An Aging Life Care Manager can help you understand what to expect and guide you as the disease unfolds. Consider the assistance of a therapist to get through sensitive topics with your spouse: Finances, sex, household chores, when to tell others, driving, end-stage care. Finally, work with an attorney to create legal documents for when your partner becomes unable to make personal decisions.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s is challenging and moves quickly. There’s no denying it. But you will experience less stress if you reach out early and often to get the support you need.