An increasingly common dilemma facing elderly couples and their loved ones is how to cope with two sets of health issues simultaneously. While declining health can happen to any senior, aging couples need to consider specific issues such as one person’s increasing dependence on his or her partner or the possibility of no longer being able to live together. The couple — and their offspring or loved ones — must come to grips with the potential for such situations and the major adjustments that might be required.

An increasingly common dilemma facing elderly couples and their loved ones is how to cope with two sets of health issues simultaneously.

While declining health can happen to any senior, aging couples need to consider specific issues such as one person’s increasing dependence on his or her partner or the possibility of no longer being able to live together. The couple — and their offspring or loved ones — must come to grips with the potential for such situations and the major adjustments that might be required.

When members of a family or couple become dependent on others, it can be gradual in the case of worsening arthritis, lung disease, heart disease and dementia, or sudden in the case of a stroke or serious fracture.

Managing finances, cooking and cleaning duties fall on those who may not usually do these things. It may be the first time someone has to do laundry or pay bills in their lifetime, in their eighties. Almost every couple and every family must endure this process, when roles change drastically.”

Often one partner in a couple begins suffering from dementia.

Many happily demented people have no idea that they are any trouble to anyone else. But their caregiver has the 24/7 job, which is like having a 2-year-old again.

If money is an issue for partners wishing to stay together when their medical needs differ, the couples and their loved ones often have few choices.

Being as realistic as possible about future scenarios helps prepare elderly couples and their loved ones for declining health and the caregiving inevitably required.

Being prepared — mentally, spiritually and financially — will help ease future situations for aging couples. The elderly and their loved ones need to make preparations and have realistic expectations. It can be especially delicate for couples to talk about one partner taking care of another, or even having to separate.

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