Managing Marriage and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Belmont Village Senior Living offers support for couples with varying needs

Most couples would say they were firm in their commitment when they took their marriage vows. Time and circumstances pull many apart, but those who make it 30, 40, 50, even 60 + years probably consider themselves on solid ground. However, it’s not uncommon for couples who have spent most of their lives together to face the threat of separation in later years because of varying health needs. Cognitive issues such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are particularly challenging, especially as one partner steps into the caregiving role. Often the affected partner still functions well in other ways, but needs a higher level of support than even they may realize. This creates stress for both partners that can make time together difficult and time apart worrisome.

“One of the hidden benefits we’ve seen with our Circle of Friends program is that it gives our couples back their personal space in a way that alleviates guilt, fear, and very real physical and emotional strain, allowing them to better enjoy their time together,” said Beverly Sanborn, Belmont Village Senior Living’s VP of Program Development. “Belmont’s tiered approach allows both partners to interact with their peers socially and maintain their own mental and physical fitness, nutrition, spirituality and creativity in ways that are appropriate to each partner’s needs.”

In 2005, Belmont Village launched Circle of Friends® for residents who didn’t need dementia care, but needed a higher level of support than typically offered in senior living. “Signs of MCI include short-term memory loss, inability to focus, social discomfort, and, occasionally, a loss of sense of place,” said Sanborn. “Changes are more noticeable than what’s typical in normal aging – friends and family will see the difference – but they aren’t as severe as in Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

Residents with MCI remain in their senior living apartments, conveniently located near activity centers. They can still perform activities of daily living and lead purposeful lives through the daily calendar of research-based group activities led by a specially trained staff. The activities are ability-centered and designed to enhance function, promote socialization and build confidence.

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