Caregiving as a Spouse
A family caregiver is anyone who provides unpaid, informal care for another person in their family. Many times, husbands or wives become family caregivers for their partners. This kind of caregiving comes with its own unique challenges. In today’s blog, we will talk a little bit about the realities of caregiving for a spouse, as well as how to adapt to the challenges that come with it. At the end of this blog, we hope that you know you are not alone, and many of the experiences you might be having are shared by millions of people around the world. We also hope that you find empowerment and have a better understanding of what to do and what resources you can rely on.
Challenges of Caregiving and How to Adapt
Emotional Stress: It goes without saying that caregiving is a stressful role. This is especially the case when you are caring for a spouse because you likely live with them and spend most of your time with them. Not only are you providing care, which is a different dynamic in your relationship, but you may be unable to connect with your partner in the same way. For example, if your spouse has been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder, like Alzheimer’s, then they may experience a decreased ability to communicate or remember things as easily as before. Not only is it devastating to see a loved one negatively impacted by a disorder, but it can mean increased loneliness for you, the caregiver.
- What to do: To address the emotional stress as a caregiver, it is important to talk about what you are experiencing with others. Ideally, you can find a caregiver support group so you can share similar stories, as well as connect with other people who know what you are going through. It is okay to admit that you are experiencing these kinds of challenges and you should freely express how you are feeling when in these support groups.
Physical Limitations: Caregiving requires a lot more physical activity than one might think. Sometimes people have to help their spouses get out of bed, into the shower, or help them walk around the house. Depending on your current physical abilities, this can be very hard for some spouses.
- What to do: This is a time to rely on some external support, like from another family member or a trained, professional caregiver. The latter can be especially helpful because they have been specifically trained for such situations, such as transferring an individual from bed to bath or from bed to wheelchair, and so on.
Social Consequences: Having a loved one that is living with an illness can pose numerous challenges to their social life, as well as that of yours. For married couples, this can be difficult because it may mean travelling less frequently, going out less, or having to cancel plans more often. Even if socializing still takes place, it may mean having to modify events so that your loved one can participate, and this can be tough to explain to others.
- What to do: There are two broad suggestions to adapt to this challenge. (1) If you need to modify events to include your loved one in a social gathering, then be sure to communicate clearly with trusted friends. You should not feel afraid or ashamed to communicate, and people are often much more understanding then you might think. (2) If you find that you need a break, then rely on respite care from a nurse registry like ElderCare at Home. Respite care provides you with a professional caregiver for a time that works for you, giving you the opportunity to step away from your caregiving duties and find some relief.
If you have any questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.