For part 1 click here.
By the time a couple is in their 60’s, they have a set way of living and managing their lives. Change is hard and opinions are unappreciated. Many couples with one spouse who has a food allergy live harmoniously with the allergen still in the home. The partner without the food allergy most likely has a system set up where they can enjoy the products without endangering their partner, whether this includes only using paper wear when eating, washing their hands extra carefully, or brushing their teeth after eating the allergen. If they have received guidance from their allergist- and it works for them- great! No harm no foul. But what happens when the medical condition of the spouse with food allergies changes? What steps should be taken when dealing with a disease with potential memory loss and cognitive function?
When 2 people are functioning at their optimum it is considered relatively safe to have an allergen present in the house when there is a spouse who has a food allergy. However, a diagnosis of a disease that affects the memory changes everything. What if the spouse forgets about their food allergy and accidentally consumes their allergen? What if they are home alone when this happens? Will they have the ability to recognize the symptoms of their own reaction? Can they seek help quickly and effectively?
Preparing for the future
In the same way, a couple makes preparations for the future when a spouse has been diagnosed with either Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another condition that affects a person’s memory- careful consideration should be taken when creating a food allergy plan for the future of someone who will experience increasing memory loss and confusion. It is important to understand that conditions like these deteriorate with no prior warning. There are no alarm bells that go off when the patient’s symptoms worsen. A person can be stable for a while and then experience a sudden decline. Therefore, consider creating a living environment that protects the spouse in the event of memory deterioration.
What should a plan include;
- Consider removing the allergen from the house entirely.
- Choose a younger abled body to take over the shopping that includes label checking (remember companies change their allergy information on their labels often)
- Have a few epi-pens placed around the house with clear signage of their location and instructions for use.
- Have an allergy emergency plan taped in a clear location in the house.
- Consider drop-by visits by neighbors when the spouse is left going to be alone in the house for long periods of time.
- Consider purchasing a remote body monitor so a child or other individual can be alerted to a possible emergency.
It’s important that the primary doctor is included in both the preparation of the plan and its implementation. It is possible that the decision will be made to implement the plan in stages, but this requires close medical supervision. This process can be very difficult for the other spouse who is dealing with a beloved partner with a recent medical diagnosis and a life change simultaneously. These changes are important but discussions and decisions should be made delicately.