Saturday, January 8, 2022


 Here is a question for my readers, especially those who identify as Christians. Imagine there is an elderly couple where the husband is suffering from dementia (but still can take a basic care of himself). The wife has health problems of her own. Is it acceptable for her to put her husband into an assisted living facility but refuse to accompany him? 


  1. These are hard questions to answer without all the variables and circumstances. If she is of sound mind and can make her own decisions, and is not financially dependent on anyone else, she can choose to do whatever she wants. Her children may disagree with her, but she is an adult capable of making her own choices. On the other hand, if she is financially dependent on her children, then the one who pays the bills gets a say in the matter.

    What my family learned is that it is vitally important for each parent to have a plan, both written and verbalized to their children, on what to do when physical and/or mental health deteriorates to the point that the parent can no longer take care of him/herself. If the wishes are know ahead of time a lot of grief and family arguments can be avoided. We learned that it is wise to have "markers" such as 'when I can no longer cook for myself, bathe myself, do my own laundry' etc. to know when it is appropriate to take us out of our home and either live with adult children or in a facility of some kind.

    These end of life decisions are difficult and often painful to make. Living with a spouse who has dementia can be tiring physically and emotionally. My parents took care of my father's mother for five long years. They earned their crowns in heaven for their loving care of her.

  2. Rozy, thank you for your reply! Taking care of aged parents at home is very noble and seldom happens nowadays.

    However, when talking about spouses it's slightly different, imo. Can a wife (or a husband) choose legal separation for a non-Biblical reason? Isn't it what is called "divorce of table and bed"? How about for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till Death do us part?

  3. I guess it's a personal choice among the couple and the family. My mom and I took care of my dad with some home health care that my mom paid out of pocket. It was fortunate at the time that my mom got another income source from some mineral rights on some family property. Anyway, it's a brutal job even if they can walk around and do some things for themselves. I took my dad with me to town a couple times when he could walk but was slightly mentally impaired. It can be exhausting.

  4. I know. My father-in-law had dementia. Here many people have an option to enter a nursing home together with their spouse, so that they aren't separated. So then the question is, should a professing Christian legally separate from his or her spouse if they have dementia when there is a choice of good care and staying together?

    And if it's allowed for dementia, what other health condition makes it OK? Terminal cancer? Heart disease? I personally know 2 men who ditched their wives suffering from MS. Granted, they weren't Christians.

    But we as believers, we do marry for better for worse in sickness or in health?

    I will admit that I'm prejudiced in this matter as my mother-in-law who herself suffered from metastatic cancer spent last 5 years of her life taking care of her severely handicapped husband who had dementia, was blind in one eye and paralysed in one leg due to stroke and finally died from cancer.

    She did have home care which is here mostly paid by insurance, but you have to pay some amount yourself. Before he died, she wrote them in for a nursing home where they could stay together as husband and wife, but it had a waiting list of 1 year. So my father-in-law died at home. Her sister did the same for her husband, also suffering from cancer and dementia.

  5. I do believe that anyone who vows for better for worse in sickness and in health should honor their vows. And since we don't know how much the dementia patients comprehend, it would be a horrible act of desertion to someone in dire need of familiar companionship. Even if they don't seem to recognize their spouse, from time to time there can be flashes of coherence.
    People have become way too selfish.

  6. When I got married, I was told by a lady performing the secular ceremony (here you marry for the law and then can have another ceremony in church) that it's our duty to live together. Now it was some years ago so may be they changed it yet again, but it does support the idea that a legal separation for whatever reason is not fulfilling your duty as a married couple. I knew smb whose church prevented her from receiving Lord's Supper for exactly that reason, because her husband went into a care facility and she refused to follow him. They said it was akin to divorce.

    Ultimately, it's a question of love. My mother-in-law loved her husband deeply and died soon after him since he was her reason to keep on living.