Spouse Has Dementia? You’re at Risk, Too


Why are husband caregivers at so much greater risk of developing dementia than the wife caregivers?

Norton believes it’s because older men tend to rely on their wives to keep up social ties with relatives and friends. “The social support system shrinks if the wife has dementia,” she says.

Also, men often fail to go to the doctor without some nudging from their wives, Norton says. This places them at higher risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other conditions that may raise the risk of dementia.

No matter how sick your spouse is, take care of your own health too, she advises.

Norton offers this advice for adult children of people with dementia:

  • Visit frequently and relieve the caregiving parent from his or her duties so he or she can get some rest.
  • Make sure the healthy parent gets out and engages in social activities.
  • Ensure both parents get to the doctor regularly.

“We tend to nurture the sick. But you have to be aware of the burden that caregiving is placing on the healthy parent,” she says.