- Caregiving for a Spouse
- How to Balance Being a Caregiver and a Spouse?
- 1. Do not isolate yourself
- 2. Reach out to family members if available
- 3. Contact local daycare centers for seniors
- 4. Schedule weekly self-care days for yourself
- 5. Join a local club, church, or organization
- 6. Keep up on your nutritional intake
- 7. Perform regular physical exercise
- 8. Get an adequate amount of sleep
- 9. Go to your regular doctor visits
- 10. Be aware of the signs that you need extra caregiving assistance
Senior spouse caring for one another may be viewed as just part of the marital journey rather than informal caregiving. As seniors grow older together, the more complex caregiving tasks may get for one partner. Increased burdened of care is usually a steady process, which is why many older couples may not realize (ever or in a timely manner) they need extra help with caregiving responsibilities.
Caring for an aging spouse presents unique challenges
Spouses who are caring for their senior partners can find joy and satisfaction in helping their loved ones meet their daily needs. However, years of caregiving combined with the inevitable effects of aging can be wearing on a senior caregiving spouse and result in poor health, injury, depression, anxiety, and strained relationship with their spouse and others close to them.
Spouses who are caring for their senior partners may feel overwhelmed and at a bit of a loss on how to perform their own self-care when all their free time goes into caregiving. Then such things comes into their mind, how do I make time for myself when there’s no time at all? Can I do my own self-care at home?
How to Balance Being a Caregiver and a Spouse?
What if I feel too guilty to take care of myself because it takes away from my spouse? How do I increase my social opportunities with so little time available? When do I know it’s time to get additional caregiving help? For spouses who are looking for ways to improve their self-care while caring for their loved ones, we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips you can apply to your lives.
1. Do not isolate yourself
Whatever you do, do not place yourself in a position where you truly feel like you are the only person in your spouse’s life who can take care of their personal needs. Being constantly in the mindset that you are the only one who can help your loved one is dangerous for them and for you. This mindset prevents you from seeking help and taking care of yourself which will eventually negatively impact how you care for your loved one.
2. Reach out to family members if available
If you have close family members or friends who are willing or who have offered to help with caregiving responsibilities, give them a call and let them. If your senior spouse requires a certain routine and medication schedule, provide full training to your family members so that you are not the only one who is proficient in handling their day. If something happens to your health or you just want some time to yourself, you will have a group of people ready to step in.
3. Contact local daycare centers for seniors
Daycare for seniors has grown in popularity over the years. Spouse caregivers can drop their loved ones off at a senior center for the day where they will have access to nursing services, recreational activities, and social activities. Seniors can hang out at these centers for several hours while spouses can take off for the day and perform some much-needed self-care and maintenance.
4. Schedule weekly self-care days for yourself
If you don’t mark your calendar for self-care, the less likely you’ll commit to regular participation in activities you desperately need for yourself. Find one day per week, even if it’s only for a couple of hours, and mark your calendar. Arrange ahead of time for help to step in and give your loved one some warning that you will be stepping out for a short while.
5. Join a local club, church, or organization
Research and join a local organization such as a book club, church group, game night group, volunteer group, orchestra, or choir. Find a group that best works with your schedule, which oftentimes includes groups that meet regularly but not excessively. Many of these groups are also very forgiving and understanding of absences to care for your spouse if needed. Having a social outlet is an excellent way to supplement your self-care routine.
6. Keep up on your nutritional intake
Remember, you are also aging along with your spouse. It is essential for you to participate in a healthy diet and to drink plenty of water. A poor diet leads to adverse health issues, which complicates your daily function and impedes your ability to help your senior spouse.
7. Perform regular physical exercise
Even if you must complete it in your home, settle on a regular physical exercise routine that can be carried out at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes per session. Examples of in-home exercises include yoga, tai-chi, aerobics, dance, cycling, treadmill reps, etc. If your senior spouse has the physical and cognitive capacity to do so, invite them to join in on some of your exercise regimens.
8. Get an adequate amount of sleep
Try your very best to get some sleep. This is especially hard for caregivers who are up at all hours of the night checking on seniors with complex medical problems or tendencies to wander and get injured. Call a family member or friend who would be willing to help your loved one so you can take an afternoon nap. Consult with your physician if you require pharmacological help such as sleep aids.
9. Go to your regular doctor visits
Do not neglect your own medical check-ups while you busily transport your loved one to all their appointments. As mentioned previously, you are also aging with your loved one. It’s important for you to go to regular screenings and check-ups so you can stay healthy for you, your self-care tasks, and for your caregiving responsibilities.
10. Be aware of the signs that you need extra caregiving assistance
Have an honest discussion with your loved one, who require home caregiver services for seniors. Be well versed in the signs that you may need to supplement your caregiving duties with professional help such as home health.
Spouses participating in their own self-care is not something anyone should feel guilty about, and it does not take away from typical, caregiving responsibilities. In fact, enhancing self-care for spouses means that they can better perform their caregiving duties by maintaining good physical and mental health. Talk to your family and friends, contact a daycare center, or consult with a professional agency today to see what you can do to optimize caring for your loved one while still caring for yourself.