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How To Balance Being a Spousal Caregiver and a Partner

How To Balance Being a Spousal Caregiver and a Partner

A recent report found that around 48 million Americans look after their spouse as they age and when chronic health conditions arise.

If you’re part of this number, you might find that providing care for your partner can be rewarding, yet challenging.

If you’re the primary caregiver for your spouse and you’re feeling overwhelmed, we can help at Always Best Care Senior Services.

We’ll share how to care for your elderly spouse while taking care of yourself and help you find valuable tools for support — from support groups to educational resources and our Always Best Care professionals.

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What Is a Spousal Caregiver?

A spousal caregiver is someone who provides primary care and support to their senior partner who is suffering from a health condition or disability.

Being a caregiver for a spouse encompasses many responsibilities, such as managing daily tasks, meeting medical needs, and being emotional support. This requires the spousal caregiver to balance responsibilities with their own personal life, work, and well-being.

Signs of Spousal Caregiver Burnout

Spousal caregiver burnout is a condition experienced by an individual who takes care of their partner. It is characterized by emotional discomfort and physical exhaustion.

Signs of spousal caregiver burnout include:

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and other loved ones
  • Anhedonia, or the inability to experience joy in activities previously enjoyed
  • Helplessness
  • Irritability or frustration towards others
  • Frequent illness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Inability to concentrate

If you’re a spousal caregiver who is experiencing burnout, these issues can impact your overall health and well-being, as well as your ability to care for your partner.

How To Prevent Spousal Caregiver Burnout

While caregiving can sometimes take an emotional or physical toll on your well-being, there are steps you can take to help prevent spousal caregiver burnout.

  • Eat balanced meals: Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients that can help support your physical health and maintain your energy levels.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink enough water to help you stay hydrated, think better, and manage your stress levels.
  • Cut down on caffeine: While coffee is popular for providing extra energy, limit your intake to around three to five cups of coffee a day to prevent restlessness and heart palpitations.
  • Stay organized: Follow a daily routine and use to-do lists and apps to help keep track of your tasks and manage daily activities easier.
  • Take self-care breaks: Give yourself a much-needed break from caregiving by doing enjoyable things, such as reading a book, going for a walk, taking an afternoon nap, or sipping on a cup of coffee, to help prevent burnout or caregiver resentment.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Manage stress with yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, or music and art therapy to help ease tension and improve your mood.
  • Ask for help from family: Accept that you can’t handle everything alone. Acknowledge when you’re reaching your limits and ask family members or friends for help.
  • Join support groups: Find a spousal caregiver group where you can get advice and receive emotional reinforcement. Meeting other spousal caregivers who are in similar situations can help you gain new perspectives on managing challenges and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Let go of guilt: You feel responsible for your spouse, but remember, you’re only human. Prioritize your own well-being, as it can help you provide your spouse with better care and support.
  • Separate your role as a caregiver: Caregiving can change the dynamic of your spousal relationship. During caregiving duties, provide medical care. When it’s time to step away from these duties, focus on being a spouse to help maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your partner.
  • Get professional help: Understand that your spouse may eventually need assisted living or respite care to ensure they receive the best support. Professional caregivers can provide specialized assistance and improve the overall quality of life for both you and your spouse.
A senior couple stretching outside​
Separating your role as a caregiver can help you preserve the emotional and intimate aspects of your relationship​

Spousal Caregiver Support

As a spousal caregiver, you may experience a wide range of emotions, as there are many challenges of balancing caregiving duties with your personal responsibilities.

When spousal caregiving becomes overwhelming, there are resources that are available to help you manage challenges more effectively.

Spousal caregiver support resources include:

1. Caregiver Support Groups

Caregiver support groups allow you to connect with other spouses who are going through similar experiences, offering a space to share stories, advice, and emotional support.

In these groups, you can find understanding and empathy, learn coping strategies, and get practical tips from those who truly understand the challenges and rewards of caring for your loved one.

Organizations like the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) and the Caregiver Action Network offer support groups specifically for spousal caregivers.

2. Online Communities

Online communities are digital platforms where you can interact with others who are in similar situations, from the comfort of your home.

These communities offer a safe space to share experiences, seek advice, and find emotional support, often providing 24/7 accessibility.

These platforms include forums, social media groups, and websites, such as AgingCare, that are dedicated to caregiving topics.

3. Educational Resources

Educational resources allow you to deepen your understanding of the different aspects of caregiving, from medical information related to your spouse’s condition to practical caregiving techniques.

These resources can include online articles, instructional videos, webinars, and books, providing valuable insights into effective caregiving strategies and stress management.

The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association offer educational materials and tips for caregiving.

4. National and Local Hotlines

National and local hotlines allow you to quickly access around-the-clock professional assistance and guidance.

These hotlines can provide immediate support in times of crisis, answer specific caregiving questions, direct you to local resources, and offer emotional support.

Hotlines, such as the Eldercare Locator, can direct you to local resources.

Spousal caregivers providing support for other caregivers​
Caregiver support groups can provide you with emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community​

How To Care For Your Elderly Spouse

Caring for an elderly spouse is a journey that can be filled with love, challenges, and unique responsibilities.

As your partner enters their golden years, their needs change, requiring more attention and understanding.

To provide the best care for your elderly spouse:

  • Understand their health condition: Educate yourself about your spouse’s medical situation by staying informed about the latest health development and treatments.
  • Understand their medications: Talk to your spouse’s healthcare provider to learn about each medication and their possible side effects.
  • Manage their appointments and medications: Keep track of all your spouse’s medications and make sure they are taken correctly by setting medication reminders. Schedule and attend appointments and track your partner’s health changes.
  • Implement a safe environment: Utilize a home safety checklist to make sure your spouse is living in a safe home. Remove tripping hazards, such as clutter, cords, and loose rugs. Install grab bars in the bathroom and handrails on stairs. Place frequently used items in easy to reach areas and make sure your home is properly lit by installing motion sensor lights at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Make sure they wear proper footwear: Make sure your spouse wears well-fitting shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Encourage the use of mobility aids: If your partner is prone to falls, make sure they use mobility assistive devices, such as walkers or assistive canes.
  • Utilize a medical alert system: Consider using a medical alert system, such as a necklace with a help button, so your spouse can call for help during a medical emergency.
  • Promote hydration and a balanced diet: Remind your spouse to drink at least six to eight glasses of water daily and eat antioxidant-rich foods.
  • Listen to your spouse: Pay attention to your partner’s needs and behaviors, as changes in mood or behavior can indicate discomfort or preferences that they may not express directly.
  • Set aside time for fun: While your marriage dynamics may change, it’s important to still find time to be happy together. Schedule regular date nights, watch your favorite movies together, or enjoy shared hobbies.
  • Create a care plan: Having a care plan in place can help reduce feelings of stress and help you align expectations with your spouse. A care plan can include discussing a move to an assisted living community or scheduling respite care when you need time for other responsibilities, such as managing household tasks or attending to the needs of other family members.
Find out how we can help you and your loved one.
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Find Reliable Support For Your Spouse at Always Best Care

When caregiving feels overwhelming, our dedicated team at Always Best Care Services is here to help you. We offer reliable senior care tailored to the unique physical and emotional needs of every patient.

Our commitment to high-quality care has been unwavering for over 25 years, and we proudly offer senior care services in more than 225 territories across the United States and Canada.

Our senior care services include:

At Always Best Care Senior Services, our trusted caregivers are compassionate about providing top-notch care and support for every patient.

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