Love and Dementia

Today we are joined by Raymond Thompson, the husband of Marilyn who has lived with dementia for over 10 years. Ray and Marilyn have been married for 56 years and know a thing or two about marriage. He’s here to provide some insight on what it’s like when your valentine has dementia. 
Raymond Thompson
Raymond Thompson
Q: What’s it like loving someone with dementia?
Loving someone with dementia reminds me why you fell in love with them to begin with. Sometimes it is hard I will admit, but a lot of the time it is no different than it was before my wife was diagnosed. As my wife I love her and I always will love her; I love her whether she has dementia or not. 
Raymond and Marilyn Thompson appreciating their time on a boat.
Q: What has changed about your relationship since your partner was diagnosed with dementia? 
A: I’m not as happy because Marilyn is not with me all the time (Marilyn lives in long-term care). For example, I went out for dinner with my son and daughter-in-law last weekend and it broke my heart not to have her there. I want to be with her as much as I can but it was not safe for her to live at home anymore. I still visit her twice a day, everyday though. 
Raymond and Marilyn Thompson casually posing by the river.
Q: What is the same about your relationship even though your partner has dementia? 
A: I still love her, and I’m sure she still loves me. She lights up when she sees me and sometimes when I am leaving her room she’ll give me a nice smile or wink and I know she knows me and loves me. We still enjoy each other’s company. We hold hands, take walks, listen to music together, and talk to one another everyday. There’s no change in our relationship, she just can’t communicate like she normally would. I still want the same things for her, to keep her happy and healthy. When I married her I said my vows, “I’ll love her ‘till I die”, and I’m going to do that, that hasn’t changed. 
Raymond and Marilyn Thompson sitting on the front porch.
Q: Do you have any special plans for Valentine’s Day? 
A: I am going to get her flowers and a card. My daughters and I have already decorated her room for Valentine’s day and I plan on giving her a big kiss. 
Raymond and Marilyn Thompson wearing matching shirts - together since 1960.
Q: Do you have any advice for others who have a partner living with dementia? 
A: Always stick beside them and treat them as well as you can. Make them feel like there is still love there, and kiss them quite often. If you are feeling lonely or upset take up a new hobby or get involved with an old hobby. I recently got a treadmill and walking daily helps me clear my mind. I have always liked horse racing and have gotten more into that as well. It is also important to have a good support system, when I am upset I talk to my family or my grandkids. 
My advice is to never give up on your loved one and cherish your relationship. Love conquers all. 
Raymond and Marilyn Thompson joyfully sitting on the front porch swing.
Does your valentine have dementia? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!