Dating when a spouse has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – November 23, 2018

by Tom P Blake

Dating when a spouse has Alzheimer’s Disease

Larry, 76, Toronto, emailed, “Re last week’s eNewsletter about dating a deceased friend’s spouse, I’m in a similar  situation. My wife has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and no longer knows me. She’s been in a nursing home the past few years, and so I’m living a single life.

I’ve reached a point, where I’m ready for a new relationship. I’m really missing female companionship, in all its forms, and need that to change. I’ve started reaching out (with the full blessings/support of family, friends, and professionals), and have dated several women, all of whom are aware of and ok with my situation.

By the same token, I’ve also been rejected by several other women who are uncomfortable with the situation. So, as the article concludes – there is no right or wrong answer. Each individual caregiver needs to do what feels right to him/her.

Tom’s response: On the Finding Love After 50 Website, there are three articles I previously published on this topic under the article categories. It’s the first category listed. Here is the link to those articles:

Larry: “Great! I’m off to visit my wife in the nursing home, and will check the articles later this afternoon.”

And then later, Larry wrote: “I just finished reading the three articles, and what struck me immediately, is that I can relate to most of the content in all of them!

“To give you some context, my wife and I have been together for 29 years, and until she went into long term care more than two years ago, we had never spent one night apart. As a matter of fact, we were rarely apart at all, as we worked together. What was our work you might ask? We were relationship counselors, helping couples deal with relationship issues. So, believe me, I can fully understand the issues facing the people in these situations.

“The bottom line for me (and I know my wife would agree), is that one must be true to self, and do or not do what he/she believes to be right. Although input from friends, family, professionals, clergy, etc., may be welcomed, and of some use, ultimately, the decision rests with the individual(s)/couple.

“In my case, I do have the full support of family, friends, and professionals, to reach out/date/socialize, etc., and if I do find another ‘special one,’ then, a committed romantic relationship would be welcome. That new relationship would not preclude my love for my wife, nor impinge on my visiting her regularly.

“If Champs want to contact me, my email is”

Comments from Champs (readers) to this article on November 30, 2018

Last week’s topic, dating when a spouse has Alzheimer’s, was/is a controversial topic.

I am aware of that. A small number of Champs responded in horror that someone would venture out despite a spouse being in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. They are sticking by their wedding vows forever. End of story. Regardless of what happens.

One person who feels that way was critical of others who feel differently.

Others, particularly, those who have experienced a similar situation, or are currently experiencing it now, take a much more understanding and empathetic point of view.

My thoughts: This is a topic that couples (not just married couples, but, any committed couple) might want to discuss “what if?” while they are both lucid, clear thinking, and far before the issue presents itself. What each couple decides is right for them is exactly that: right for them.


Widow guilt. Dating a deceased friend’s husband

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – November 16, 2018

by Columnist Tom Blake

Should this widow feel guilty about dating a deceased friend’s husband?

Champ Donna, a widow since 2011, emailed, “My friend passed away from cancer two years ago. Her husband is the man I am talking to now. We live in two different Eastern states, not too far from each other. We are both in our early 60’s, and at the end of this year, we are retiring.

I didn’t know him at all. I have seen him three times in the past 30 years for about 10 minutes just to say hi.

My friend said that she and he never got along over 25 years of marriage. She told me some things about him, but I never commented or added anything that was negative because I did not know him.

I would always try to fix things with my feedback about whatever was going​ on, as to how she felt about him. My friend–rest her soul–was very opinionated, controlling and bossy with her husband and the children, which I witnessed one of the three times I saw him. ​It got to a point when my friend and I talked over the phone, we never talked about him.

We talked three times​ a year, but I was the one that would call, until​ that one day she called me to tell me she had cancer. By this time, she and he had been separated​ for 10 years.​ Now she is gone…their​ children are grown and on their own, and are not close to him, because of her.

He and I have been talking over the phone for two years. We have become​ good friends and have a lot in common​. I would like to see him, but I have guilt​ that he was my friend’s​ husband, hanging​ over my head.

Now, we are just friends. ​But what I am feeling​ guilty​ ​about is…if we do start​ seeing each, how would his grown children feel about us being​ together?

His marriage and family life were​ calmly dysfunctional​…if you can picture that. We are both reluctant​, but I know we will see each other soon. We are not getting any younger.

We are both​ healthy​​ and able to still have fun before we die​, so why not? BUT THE WIDOW GUILT?”

My response to Donna: “Ditch the guilt. Your friend had been separated for 10 years. They had a miserable marriage. Why worry about his children? You say he is not close to them.

If you enjoy each other, go for it, now! Live in the present.

Have you been together in person at all? Do that. You might find you want to be together or you may find you don’t.

You weren’t that good of a friend of hers-talking to each other only three times a year.

One concern: if the family is dysfunctional, do you want to get involved in that?

Wait no longer.”

Senior travel articles should make you happy

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter  – November 9, 2018

by Columnist Tom Blake

My partner Greta and I are on an 82-day Grand Asia & Pacific Cruise. We have just completed 40 days and tomorrow, November 10, we will visit Singapore for two days.

This week, I received this email from a woman Champ, one of my e-Newsletter readers. I did not edit it, this is the way it came in:

She wrote: “Sounds like a trip of a life time, but Tom did you ever think that maybe these wonderful trips that you take and share with us maybe is a depressed feeling for those who cannot take these trips! for many reasons, one for lack of money or health problems, lacking a partner to go with, I know it makes me a little down at times, just a thought for you.”

My response: I appreciate you taking your time to express your thoughts. I am very aware there may be other Champs who feel as you do.

In the first newsletter about this trip, even before we left Los Angeles on September 30, I wrote: “Greta and I are truly blessed in our retirement, to be able to physically and financially afford to travel to distant lands. We do not take that for granted. We realize there will come a day when we can’t. And we also realize that not all seniors can take a trip like this.”

When I blog or write about travels, many Champs and newspaper readers tell me they enjoy traveling with us vicariously. Nearly all say they want to hear about the trips.

The last thing in the world I want to do is make people feel depressed by my writing.

Greta and I worked very hard to be able to travel. She was a special education teacher for 31 years who raised four children as a single mom. I worked until I was 75. So, we feel we earned the right to travel as we do.

And, I just happen to be a journalist. I write for nine newspapers and every week I publish an e-Newsletter at no cost to my Champs. For years, the newsletter was titled “Finding Love After 50” and I charged for it.

Several years ago, I made the decision that I wanted to write about more than just finding love later in life. I wanted to write about whatever I felt I could do a good job on. So, I changed the name to “On Life and Love after 50.”

And when I travel, I can do a good job writing about it because I am personally experiencing it. I think Greta and I represent people in their mid-to-late 70s well, by setting an example of discovering these countries on our own, seldom taking organized tours. We walk, sweat, are aware of our surroundings and try to avoid uneven sidewalks and steps, and understand the different currencies in all of these countries. It isn’t always easy, or pretty how we do it, but we’re out there.

I stopped charging for the newsletter so that people wouldn’t feel they were being shortchanged by not receiving what they signed up and paid for. And if they didn’t like what they read, they could simply unsubscribe, or just not read that week’s edition.

I have received so many positive comments about these few travel newsletters that I’m totally surprised—and inspired to keep writing about this 82-day trip. One week I had close to 40 positive responses.

We have reached the half way point on this trip.

Champ Andree emailed this week: “I love hearing all about your travels. Thank you for sharing and please keep sharing. Have a fabulous time wherever your headed in this terrific adventure. Peace and safe travels.”

Greta at San Pedro after getting off the ship
Greta is happy to be home after 82 days of cruising

Journalists can’t always write about what makes people happy. That’s not a realistic view on life. I hope I haven’t depressed too many people with these tales of our experiences. If anything, I’m trying to inspire seniors to get out and experience life as best they can.

One thing I will say. Not taking a trip because you don’t have a partner with whom to travel is no reason why not to go. There are many single women on this ship traveling by themselves. One is 97-years-old. And there are many women who are traveling with women friends. There are single women in walkers, electric scooters, and using canes. That didn’t stop them; one can only admire their dedication to living life to the fullest, despite their physical challenges.

So, to this woman reader I say this: If I write about a senior dating success story, where two seniors have found happiness together–and you haven’t–should I stop writing about dating successes? Of course not. The same goes for our travels. If you find reading these positive stories makes you depressed, you have a choice: don’t read that week’s issue, or (and I hope you don’t do this), simply stop reading what I write.

I put my heart and soul into my writing, and that’s the way it’s going to be.