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We have spent a lot of time discussing how Alzheimer’s Disease has had a similar impact upon all of our marriages. We have all suffered through the shock of personality change; the regression of our spouses to a child-like stage; the loss of companionship; loss of adult conversation; the loneliness; anger; resentment; and adjustment to what we cannot change.

I had a chance yesterday to see the other side of the coin – the differing ways Alzheimer’s Disease has affected different marriages. You may remember I have mentioned that Sid and I are going to be panelists at an Alzheiemer’s Conference on Friday (11/9).

Yesterday afternoon, we and the two other panel member couples met with the social worker who is moderating the discussion to “rehearse” the questions and answers. Her main question to each of us individually was – “How has Alzheimer’s Disease changed your life, and what is the main message you want to convey to people about your experience with AD?”

Because we are married couples, most of the answers just naturally centered around all of the subjects covered in my blogs, but what struck me as surprising and fascinating was the DIFFERENCES in the way Alzheimer’s Disease has affected each marriage.

One couple said that although the diagnosis was as devastating as the loss they had suffered of one of their children many years ago, their struggle with dementia brought them closer and closer together as a couple. Another woman said that she stopped stressing, let everything else go, and concentrated on spending time with her husband. Then there was me, who said that AD did not bring us together – it tore us apart, and although we have worked very hard, through support, discussion, and education, to put the pieces of our relationship back together, it will never be the same, and I mourn that loss.

Listening to the others, I felt deficient, as if I had somehow failed as a wife, because I had been unable to bring us closer through the AD experience. It wasn’t up to my husband to do it – he’s the one with the disease. It was up to me. I am aware that realistically, these feelings do not make any sense. I know, from this website, and talking to many spouses, that AD can negatively alter a relationship, and that it is not my fault, but I still felt depressed.

I began to wonder – for all of our similarities, what about our differences? Can you answer the question – MESSAGE BOARD TOPIC - What is the most important impact AD has had on your relationship? Has it brought you closer? Torn you apart? Mellowed you? I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Feedback to joan@thealzheimerspouse.com