I came across an article in the Los Angeles Times that dealt with Alzheimer’s and infidelity. I know those two words don’t appear to be a likely combination, but according to some, they are. And now I understand why. Interestingly enough, I also saw a storyline in relation to this on the Netflix show, Grace and Frankie. The subject deserves closer attention. Aside and apart from the obvious distress of a loved one having Alzheimer’s, there’s also the lone mate who’s left to fend emotionally, physically, and financially. No simple matter. I’ve had first-hand experience with this disease; my ex-mother-in-law suffered from it. To say it takes its toll on all involved is an understatement. It’s exhausting and heart-wrenching.
So what about the mate “left behind?” Compassionately loving and caring for someone afflicted is the accepted go-to option. Yet, other thoughts exist. Some say vows and promises made should be held in high esteem; “till death do us part.” Others say, needs have to be met, especially if one is healthy and strong. How do you work through this? Do you become involved in a secret life that possibly creates all kinds of guilt and intricately woven lies? Do you file for divorce and incite the ire of those who feel you should stay committed? Are you ready to be a martyr for the cause, which possibly isn’t in anyone’s best interest? Is there a true right or wrong, or is it case by case?
Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband found happiness with another woman, also afflicted with the disease, while in assisted living: “The retired justice isn’t jealous about the relationship and is pleased that her husband is comfortable at the center.” CBS correspondent Barry Peterson provided for his wife when she fell ill with early-onset Alzheimer’s and found another love. He recounts his experience in his book, Jan’s Story.
This disease and the accompanying concerns illustrate a gray area that requires further understanding and scrutiny. If Alzheimer’s is a factor in your family, an open discussion with your mate is a good first defense. This disease can take years before it runs its course. It’s best to speak now or you, in fact, may have to forever hold your peace.
*Sandra Day O’Connor article: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/justice-oconnors-husband-finds-new-lov
*Barry Petersen book: http://amzn.to/2512b71