Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

I feel guilty indulging in sex as a caretaker for my mom with dementia.

Home Forums Advice & Chat I feel guilty indulging in sex as a caretaker for my mom with dementia.

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  • #1110882 Reply

    My mom has dementia, and while my dad is her primary caretaker, I help out very often with her care.

    Seeing my mom deteriorate has seriously broken me. And seeing how it has destroyed my lonely dad, my god. She just forgot who I was for the first time last week. Seeing her mind turn into a child’s is something I can’t describe.

    I am emotionally shredded, regretting the past, hating the present, fearing the future. It’s a financial drain, helping out with appointments. It’s on my mind all the time. And it’s really hurt what has been previously my idyllic marriage, including our sex life.

    For a long time, I just rejected my husband when he initated, which slowed down as well because I assume he wanted to give me space during this time. My mind was lightyears away from sex. Him asking sometimes offended me — don’t you see what I’m going through and you only care about yourself? And very often, I felt guilty. I couldn’t mentally put my mom away on a shelf and indulge in something so pleasurable in the midst of all this pain.

    I realized this would hurt my marriage. I also missed the comfort of my husband and just plain mental relief. I started saying yes and initating sex again. It was good, until it was over, where I felt immense guilt and plunged back into sadness again.

    I’m looking for advice for the entirety of this situation, especially the guilty sex feeling part.

    #1110886 Reply

    I think you’re experiencing grief, and the guilt is mixed up in that. Maybe you could speak to a grief counselor or a therapist?

    #1110889 Reply
    Miss MJ

    Are there any caregiver support groups in your area? I think a lot of what you’re feeling is normal, if unhealthy, and you definitely need the support of someone, be it a therapist or support group. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    #1110893 Reply

    Please don’t feel guilty about experiencing brief moments of joy or pleasure amidst your grief and pain. That is what briefly recharges your spirit and permits you to keep pushing forward. It is very painful to watch the suffering of a loved one (probably your father more than your mother, who may be largely oblivious — my grandmother was a happy custodian of a nursing home from age 90 onward, even though she recognized almost nobody and remembered almost nothing — she enjoyed chatting with aides, nurses, other patients and visitors). You limit your ability to help your father if you adopt the view that you must be constantly sad, depressed, and deeply grieving, with any happiness you manage to grasp being a betrayal of your parents. That just isn’t true.

    #1110945 Reply

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    #1110979 Reply

    I worked for a non-profit that provided assistance to the elderly. The most important thing I learned- you can’t be a good caretaker unless you take care of yourself. That includes doing something that brings you pleasure now and then. Being sad and miserable all the time will only drain you, and you will be unable to provide the support your parents both need. Be good to yourself. Do what you need to feel good, despite the situation.

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