A Marriage.

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A lot of people fear that their spouse or life partner will get dementia. Many people are already coping with it. It’s incredibly hard to watch someone you love struggle with cognitive decline.

But what if you both had dementia?

Martin* and Joyce* have been married for over fifty years. They both have dementia, but Joyce is far deeper into Alzheimer’s disease. The couple lives together in the same room in a dementia care community, just as they had lived in the same home for decades.

Joyce can often be found walking the halls of the community, picking up objects and carrying them around with her. She tends to bring items back to their room and leave them on the couch beside Martin. She’s a big fan of the dementia-care baby dolls, and typically has at least one in her arms. 

Martin doesn’t say anything about her babies, even though he knows that they are not real. He watches her carefully as she places the doll on the dining room table they share. 

I think, in some sort of tragically beautiful way, that it is wonderful that this couple has not been split up by dementia the way many others have.

Instead, they live much as they always have lived: together.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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