Four Ways Elderly Caregivers Can Protect Their Relationships

Four Ways Elderly Caregivers Can Protect Their Relationships

Taking care of an elderly spouse or other relative can have many positive benefits. Some family caregivers who care for their elderly aging loved ones report that they feel closer to their spouse, and are more connected to them as they provide care. However, others seniors may feel resentment or anger, or feel as though the relationship has become one-sided.

Similarly, the spouse receiving care may not want to be perceived as a burden and may not accept as much elderly care as is needed, trying to do too many things on their own, which can in turn be perceived as them not appreciating the care that their spouse provides. How can seniors who provide care for their spouse prevent these negative effects on their relationship?

Managing Stress as an Elderly Caregiver

Older adults who act as caregivers for their elderly spouse are likely to be stressed, which can lead to caregiver burnout, which can then affect your relationship. It’s important to manage that stress and not try to ignore it. One way to ensure that the stress doesn’t become overwhelming is to get help with caregiving. That help can be from a neighbor, friend or family member, or a professional in-home caregiver.

Many people, especially seniors who are used to being independent, do not readily accept help from others. But it can be a key part of managing your stress to allow others to help. Perhaps a family member will bring you some meals. Or a friend will run an errand for you.

Even if it’s just a neighbor who is willing to keep your elderly spouse company for a few hours while you have lunch with a friend or go to a movie, time away from your around-the-clock caregiving duties can do wonders for your stress level. And even if you are the primary caregiver for your elderly spouse, you may want to consider an in-home professional caregiver to provide occasional senior home care.

Communicating as a Senior Caregiver

Many caregivers report anger and frustration, especially when it comes to providing personal care. It’s important when caring for an elderly loved one to keep lines of communication open, including:

  • Communicating with your spouse about the type of care they need you to provide. Do they need more help with daily tasks? Do they need help that you can’t provide? Would they be more comfortable receiving help from an in-home caregiver?
  •  Communicating with family about what you need in terms of assistance or support.
  • Talk with your spouse’s medical professionals to ensure the care they are receiving is appropriate for their condition.
  • Communicating with friends and other social contacts to ensure you are still connected to the world outside your home.

A breakdown in any of these types of communication can lead to lower quality of care for your loved one and lower quality of life for you.

Separating the Disease from the Person as a Senior Caregiver

No matter what the elderly person you provide care for suffers from, you should always remember to separate the disease from the person. Remember that the disease, be it cancer or Alzheimer’s or some other chronic condition, is outside of their control. Especially in the case of Alzheimer’s, it may be necessary to put aside your feelings for the person you are taking care of while providing care.

A common refrain from caregivers when dealing with someone who has severe dementia is “it’s not them anymore,” which can serve as a reminder that your spouse is not the same person they once were through no fault of their own. Nobody chooses to get Alzheimer’s, and when providing care it’s important to keep that fact in mind.

Also remember that a chronic condition may induce feelings of anger or resentment, which can cause your loved one to lash out because of how they feel, not because of how they feel about you.

Take Care of Yourself as a Senior Caregiver

There is no more important advice to give a senior caregiver than take care of yourself. Many caregivers commit themselves to taking care of an elderly spouse to the detriment of their own wellbeing.

That can cause feelings of resentment and anger that put a strain on your relationship. So while being a caregiver for your elderly spouse can seem like a 24/7/365 endeavor, it’s important to carve out time to take care of yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Eat right. Many seniors who provide care for their spouse end up eating separately from their spouse because of a restrictive diet or because their spouse has mobility issues that make it difficult to eat. An at-home caregiver can help by preparing healthy meals in advance that will work for both you and your spouse.
  • Exercise. Getting enough exercise can make an enormous difference to your physical and emotional health. Going for a walk with your spouse can have benefits to your health and your relationship by reducing stress.
  • Rest. Getting away from caregiving is an important way to maintain your relationship. Getting help from a professional caregiver can allow you the peace of mind to take a break and take care of yourself.
  • Communicate. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a professional therapist or a caregiver support group, talking about the effect caregiving has on your relationship can provide relief.

If you take the time to take care of your own needs; you’ll soon notice that taking care of yourself means you’ll have renewed patience and energy when providing care for your spouse again.

Home Care Powered by AUAF is a Home Care Agency That Can Help

The dedicated professional caregivers at Home Care Powered by AUAF; know that taking care of an elderly spouse or an aging parent is a tough job. That’s why we provide essential home care services to take care of you and your loved one. Our services include: light housekeeping, medication reminders, and companionship during activities of daily living. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more about how to get started with home care services.

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