Neither Married Nor Single: Living with Your Alzheimer’s Partner

For 14 years I lived and practiced in Ashland, Oregon. I returned to Vancouver in 1995, and in 2007 my wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. A well known Adlerian psychologist, and just 62 when the first troubling AD signs appeared, she was not diagnosed until she was 66. A psychiatrist, psychologist, and psychotherapist, I had counselled many families facing this terrible disease, and now I needed help myself, reviewing the literature specifically written for the partners of those with Alzheimer’s. The literature was limited to children dealing with elderly parents. I was seeking guidance in spousal caregiving, how to find or start support groups for married couples, as well as how to deal with the problems of intimacy and mutuality as the relationship changed. I began my research while at the same time documenting my wife’s growing incapacitation interwoven with the myriad changes within our relationship.

I also began interviewing others experiencing similar questions and conflicts. What emerged from my decade long project is a how-to- book for caregivers of spouses with dementia. In Neither Married Nor Single: Living with Your Alzheimer’s Partner, I write about types of research currently being carried out on dementia, medications available, how and when to select a care home, how to maintain the health of the caregiver, how to find a support group, as well as exploring issues and conflicts surrounding sexuality and intimacy within the partnership. I examine the challenges of resocialization and new relationships. Distinguishing this book from all others found me exploring Alzheimer’s from my perspective as both a medical professional, and as an emotional survivor of an Alzheimer’s marriage with a partner I still very much love.

Working in the mental health profession since 1971, first in Anchorage, Alaska, then Vancouver,BC and Ashland, Oregon before returning to British Columbia in 1995. I retired from my psychotherapy practice in 2017. I have written a number of articles within the past three decades. My first, independently published book, In Praise of Strong Women: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir (2009), won the Independent Publisher Book Awards’ silver medal for non-fiction. My second book is profoundly relevant to our aging population and has universal appeal for anyone facing dementia diagnosis of a loved one in the future, or is working through one. To my knowledge, Neither Married nor Single: Living with Your Alzheimer’s Partner is the only book written today addressing the tough questions about caretaking, diagnosis, grief, loss, love and sex within the Alzheimer’s marriage with any depth or breadth. Current publications do not focus on the Alzheimer’s marriage. This book visits the couple living with dementia, their relationship; and how to cope with the changes experienced of the disease progression.

What makes this book unique is that it is written from two perspectives about my marriage to a wife with Alzheimer’s; that of a loving, grief stricken husband as well as that of a determined if overwhelmed physician and geriatric psychiatrist determined to find more – to do more – to open more windows and answers to a changing and challenging partnership. This is the first book to deal with the Alzheimer marriage.