Being a spouse caregiver isn’t something we typically think of when we find the one we decide to spend the rest of our life with, but it’s likely you’ll end up caring for our spouse or they will end up caring for you as you grow elderly together.
This transition into a spouse caregiver has its own challenges, but there are steps you can take to make the change less stressful for you and your loved one.
An Adjustment for Both Partners
Changing into the roles of caregiver and the one receiving care require an adjustment period for both sides. A new dynamic is being added to the relationship. Things that used to be easy for the two of you to do together may become more difficult or even be no longer possible.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself grieving for the aspects of your relationship that used to be there before the need for caregiving arose. Allow yourself to grieve for those losses. It’s natural to, but try not to get stuck on thinking about how things used to be. It’s still possible to maintain a good, fulfilling relationship with your spouse while also taking on a caregiver role.
As a spouse caregiver, it’s important to be organized. This will make caregiving go a lot smoother. Here are some ideas to help you stay organized when caring for a loved one.
- Write Things Down: Find a calendar, planner, phone app, or something else where you can write down important dates and reminders for doctor appointments, days meds need to be refilled, bill due dates, and more. Make sure whatever you use is easy for you to access and update.
- Set Up a Routine: A routine provides comfort for you and your spouse. It makes it easier to make sure everything gets done on a daily basis that needs to be done while also making it easier to plan for rest time and activities.
- Practice Good Medication Management: If your spouse is in hospice or has a lot of medications, make sure they are getting their meds on time each day as well as getting meds refilled in a timely manner.
- Explore Products That Simplify Daily Tasks for Your Spouse: This can be as simple as investing in a shower chair or paper plates.
- Keep An Emergency Backup Kit: Keep a bag or container somewhere with medical information, insurance information, clothing, and hygiene products for an overnight stay at the hospital or a family member’s.
- Reduce Clutter: Keep your living area clean to reduce stress and keep it safe for your spouse.
- Discuss Your Spouse’s Needs with Them on a Regular Basis: Your spouse’s needs may change with time. Keep communication about this topic open and free from judgment.
Self-Care for Caregivers
Don’t neglect your own needs. Being a caregiver can be stressful. It’s important to schedule “Me” time into your day. Do something you enjoy each day, journal, and take care of your own health. If you need a break, reach out to family or nearby assisted living centers about your spouse visiting for a day or two.
You don’t have to take on all the caregiving responsibilities alone. See if your family is willing to help with tasks like picking up medications or preparing meals or other specific things.
You might be able to find a local support group for caregivers. If not, you can find one online. Use this resource to vent when needed as well as receive and give caregiving tips and support.
New Activities for Both of You
With the change in your spouse’s health, the two of you may not be able to participate in all of the same activities that you used to do together, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do things for fun together. Order take out and enjoy dinner with a movie at home. Take walks in nature. Find new hobbies and interests or modify the ones you share so that you can still do them.
It’s a big transition, becoming a spouse’s caregiver. You’ll share many experiences with your spouse in a new way, some good, some hard, but you can be a good caregiver while maintaining your relationship with your spouse and yourself.