Aging / Dating / Education / Family / Health

What Happens To The Spouse Of The Alzheimer’s Patient?

What happens to the spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient as they see the person they married slowly taken away from them? I remember first hearing about Barry Petersen and his wife *Jan, and now Dan Gasby and his wife B. Smith.

I’ve even written about the effects that it can have on the spouse, the toll it takes on them both mentally and physically in our April 28, 2018 post Alzheimer’s Caregivers “Til Death Do Us Part”.

These two spouses clearly have made difficult decisions. Are they wrong or right? Is this something that we talk about with our spouses before hand?

What are your thoughts? What are the spouses to do? Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and sometimes life is hard. We really can’t say what we would do in a difficult situation until we are faced with it.

*Jan Petersen passed away in 2013 after being cared for by her husband.


  • SLWhite
    January 29, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    This has been on all the talk shows and the internet feeds today. Originally, I was being quite judgmental; however, I further investigated and watched the entire background around the trio (couple) and find it much more caring than I originally thought. Someone in another medium said that this is one of those “new normals” that could happen more than we think. The world is changing and sometimes we have to change with the times

    • thisisyourbestyear
      January 29, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      I first saw a story about Barry Petersen, his wife and friend. He told her he could not leave his wife–he would take care of her even though she did not know him. They would visit her together. Then I saw Sandra Day O’Connor talking about how when she visited her husband he would introduce a lady at the facility has his girlfriend, and how they were always together. She said she just came to realize that he did not know her as his wife anymore.

      This may become the new normal. I do think Dan loves B.


  • Debbie
    January 29, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    He may still love his wife but I personally feel that he should keep his relationship between his wife and his mistress separate if just out of respect for both. It is definitely possible.

    • thisisyourbestyear
      January 29, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      It is a situation that I can’t get my head around. I have tried, but I know that it must be a hard one for the spouse to be in. I’ve read about both couples and seen videos on their stories. Each one has been heartbreaking. Respect was one of the things that the latest story I saw talked about. Maybe the story of the three of them should have been kept quiet and to themselves. Then again maybe it helps someone in the same position. I don’t know.

      Thanks for reading and sharing.


    January 30, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    These are all very complicated situations. In many ways, the one you have known and whom you love is gone long before they die. Part of the process is reconciling with grief that isn’t accompanied by death. I don’t know what conversations B and Dan had after her diagnosis. I am also attuned to his need for companionship and to not be swallowed by being the caregiver.

    I respect that, in both cases you presented, the girlfriend became a caregiver as well and appeared to demonstrate love and compassion. That’s a good thing. I also think he took control of his own narrative instead of allowing others to speak his truth. I recognize that it may never sit well with some people.

    It is jarring to see that happen with someone we’ve seen and admired across the years. I’ve seen comments expressing offense about how plain B looks now. Truth is she is not the B. Smith we’ve known any longer. She may not care about those things any longer.

    I went back to the earlier post. It provided a lot of perspective. I appreciate that Jan’s mother was able to say to Barry that he needed to consider a relationship. It shows her love for her son-in-law and her desire that he not stop living in the process of caring for her daughter. That was selfless. Barry was no less committed to Jan.

    I don’t know what decisions I would make or want my husband to make if this became our reality, but I respect the decisions that each man made.

    • thisisyourbestyear
      January 30, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      I don’t know what I would do either. It seems that there is no right or wrong. Dan said that people could see the sadness and tiredness in his eyes. Again I don’t know. When I first saw the story of Barry and Jan he talked about trying to keep her at home with him, and finally having to find a place for her. Nothing else I can say. B is sick and will not look like she did before.

      Thanks for the conversation.



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