The psst three years I have been s caregiver for a couple that has recently been separated because the wife has ALZ and the husbsnd has short term memory issues that made it impossible to leave her in his care. My question concerns how best to manage visits between them. I can explain to him that his wife may not know who he is; but, in the time between our talk and the visit, he forgot. He tells her that he is her husband and that causes her to be upset sometimes.

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Wow, this is a tough one! I am wondering if having them visit each other is a good idea to begin with. I never want to keep loved ones apart, but it’s pretty clear that they both confuse and upset one another. So the husband just has short term memory loss? That’s it? Perhaps make him a cue card that he can look at when entering the visit. “She may not know who you are” is what the card could say. That said, it doesn’t feel like that scenario will end well, either. He may be confused by this just as much as she is. My honest recommendation is, if they need to see each other, just let them interact. I doubt any amount of coaching will help because neither can recall what you’ve advised!

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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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