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  • Writer's pictureBy April Sage

Tell Me If This Scenario Sounds Familiar

Best friend, companion, soul mate, love of your life. There are many terms of endearment and ways to describe a loving union of two people. These relationships come in many forms, including a married couple of 50+ years, a dedicated partnership that began later in life, or best friends. Caring for two individuals with distinct needs can be a challenge. Check out the below list of scenarios I’ve come across while assisting my clients. If one sounds familiar, you’ll want to continue reading. It may help prepare you for supporting your loved one’s needs.

Scenario 1

In my time serving families, I have seen one partner barely able to get around with many medical challenges, while the other partner was the caregiver who developed dementia. Their respective families don’t know one another; one partner is more well off financially than the other, and clearly, both the families and participants have far different needs. The truly complicated diagnoses require separate considerations that may not align with the goals of the separate family members.

Scenario 2

I’ve encountered situations where one family member is considered a necessary companion, in this case, a long-term pet, serving as comfort and soothing friend in times of confusion for the ill family member. It can be difficult for the family to understand, but keeping this bonded pair together is important.

Scenario 3

The most common example is one healthy partner is paired with someone diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s, or the victim of a stroke. While people do need each other, sometimes the scenario requires the heartbreaking decision to live separately. This is common with dementia patients, as they can become far too unsafe for their partner to take care of. The risk of harm to both partners outweigh the positives of a co-living arrangement.

For most families, tradeoffs need to be considered along with complicated future planning requirements, many of which are centered around financial constraints. Each scenario comes with its own struggles for long-term budget planning and the emotional toll of asking, “what if?” It can be easier for a family to navigate when the partners are mom and dad, but is significantly more complicated with a bonded pair who have separate finances and separate families. You are not alone on this journey. There are options to support your loved ones and bring you peace of mind on this life journey; because as your family’s needs change, so might their living scenarios.

Independent Living/Continuing Care Facility

Upon diagnosis, it is common for partners to move into a continuing care community. They can live together with support, get settled in their surroundings, spend quality time, and make friends with others in the same life stage or experiencing similar challenges. This gives both the well and the ill partner people to relate to and share their experiences with. The ill partner receives much more care and support than in an independent living community. They only use the services they need, but it enables the healthy partner respite and gives support to the partner who needs daily care.

Assisted Living

Moving from an independent living community to assisted living gives each partner the specific support they need in one location. If the well partner has a less complex care need, such as medication management, while the other partner requires assistance for daily needs, this could be a good option. This is especially true if the family doesn’t want to contract in-home care due to the cost, as this could be a good compromise more in line with their budget. An assisted living solution still provides the well partner less isolation and gives them access to a community with care on hand, respite, flexible scheduling, and transportation. The burdens of home maintenance are relieved by providing housekeeping services, meal prep, and laundry service. This option allows full support when you need it with a-la-carte offerings.

Memory Care

As needs change, memory care may be unavoidable. Moving into a memory care facility is a case-by-case option for the pair. Some properties will, rarely, allow the well partner to live with the partner who has cognitive decline. Most partners will stay near their partner on the same campus or within a short distance. The well partner can visit regularly, but it’s an opportunity for them to return to being a partner rather than a 24/7 caregiver.

As always, budget and geography are what guide these solutions. This process can be a roller coaster. I am your resource to help you navigate the emotions of this change from a personal and professional level. I work with facilities and providers throughout Pierce and Thurston counties and the greater South Puget Sound region. These are personally vetted for type and quality of care. I also ensure that they are fully compliant with all state and local regulations. Each facility has its own unique style and personality. By getting to know you and your family, we work closely to find the facility that is the closest match to the needs of your loved one.

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