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Should I Consider a Divorce If My Spouse Is Diagnosed with Dementia?

 Posted on June 11, 2020 in Divorce

Naperville gray divorce attorney

Thinking about getting a divorce in the twilight of your years, or a gray divorce, is difficult enough, but having to consider such an option due to the negative effects of dementia brings with it another set of challenges. If you are the one watching your loved one decline mentally, you will probably struggle as the person you have been devoted to for so many years disappears before your eyes. How could you ever abandon this person, though, especially now, when your loved one is at his or her most vulnerable? If you consider dementia’s effect on the person diagnosed and, in turn, how that changes the dynamics of your relationship, you might realize that a divorce might be your best option.

5 Signs That a Divorce Might Be Imminent

In most cases, especially with older generations of married couples, the vow of “in sickness and in health” is not to be taken lightly. You both agreed to that vow, and possibly throughout your marriage faced adversity that you overcame together, no matter how much strain it put on your union. Why should a diagnosis of dementia be the one exception to that vow? As you will see, a “dementia divorce” might actually be better for both of you. Here are a few reasons why:  

  1. Abuse—A common symptom of dementia that tends to begin even before major loss of memory and cognitive functions is extreme changes in personality, mood, and behavior. As this syndrome takes hold, your husband or wife will seem less and less like the person you know and love. This tragic ailment will manifest itself in changes to your beloved that could cause them to do things they have never done, such as verbally, physically, and sexually abusing you. Even if it never comes to that, your ill partner will display traits that make it nearly impossible for you to live with him or her anymore like anger, aggression, irritability, and irrationality.

  2. A Distinct Change in Roles—This is also true of younger couples when one of them is diagnosed with a chronic or incapacitating illness or other health issues: There is a distinct change in roles. You are no longer equal romantic partners in marriage; your role will shift to that of a caregiver. For many, this is a daunting position to take on, and seeing this dynamic play out can be devastating.

  3. The Urgency to Move Forward—More often than not, the dementia diagnosis, or at least the point where the dementia is at its worst, will probably come when both of you are older. As much as you loved the person your spouse once was, there might have been so many other things you had hoped to do with the remaining years of your life, and you simply do not have enough time to have someone so dependent on you.

  4. The heartache of Losing the One You Love Slowly—Some partners who face this tragic situation view it as a kind of “living death”—for both their dementia-laden spouse and themselves. As you will watch your partner slowly lose another part of himself or herself each day—throwing a violent fit despite having always been so calm, maybe tomorrow he or she will not recognize your children—you, too, feel such a deep and grievous loss.

  5. Ensuring Both of Your Safety—The erratic and sometimes dangerous behaviors of dementia patients make it such that being in a safe long-term care facility is the only option. By that point, under such perilous circumstances, it would probably be best for you to split. It may be difficult at first since you will likely feel guilt and shame, but since your spouse probably will not be aware of the situation, with time, you will see that it is in both of your best interests.

Contact a DuPage County Gray Divorce Attorney

If you or your spouse is affected by dementia, or either of you suspects this devastating syndrome is pervading your daily life together, please contact your doctor immediately. If it ever gets to be too difficult for you or your spouse, and it is clearly time to move on, reach out to the compassionate team at Goostree Law Group for a free consultation. Our dedicated Wheaton divorce lawyers will assist you with the legal proceedings during this emotional time. Call us today at 630-634-5050 to schedule your confidential appointment.   



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