How to Balance Caregiving for Your Spouse

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According to an article from the AARP, “estimates of the divorce rate for couples in which one spouse has a serious chronic illness is as high as 75 percent.” This is 35% higher than the nationwide divorce rate. Additionally, spousal caregivers have been found to be more prone to depression and anxiety than adult children who are caregivers. So what are some steps you can take when it comes to balancing your caregiving responsibilities for your spouse with the current state of your marriage?

Focus on Rebalancing

When you’re a caregiver for a spouse with a chronic illness or debilitating condition, the natural shift is that you will assume the bulk, if not all, of the responsibility. It’s important to try to encourage your spouse to maintain some kind of routine, no matter how small it may seem, so that you can attempt to rebalance your relationship as much as possible. Helping your loved one to possess some kind of power or control over an aspect of his or her life can have a positive impact on both of you. 

Find a Different Way to Love

Whether it’s the loss of physical intimacy, lack of emotional connection or both, you may start to feel resentment toward your loved one because the foundation of your relationship is no longer as concrete or stable as it was when you vowed to share a life together. The critical question is, can you accept finding a different way to love your spouse? Although your marital mission has changed, feeling responsible for the care of your loved one can be an impactful goal and a fulfilling way to live your life if you’re able to accept the severity of your relationship adjustment.

Take Time for Yourself

As a caregiver for your spouse, it’s imperative that you take the time to nurture and care for yourself, too. Self care is something that we should all be practicing regularly as it can rejuvenate our spirits, our minds and our bodies; allowing us to be the most effective people and caregivers that we can be. Self care can be as simple as taking a walk to clear your mind, reading a book to temporarily mentally transport to another place, eating healthier foods, allowing yourself to laugh or treating yourself to a massage.

Consider In-Home Care Options

Ask for help. Family and friends may be willing to donate their time and energy to supporting your caregiving journey with your spouse, but you may feel guilty about allowing them to do so. Sometimes you need to hire external help and third party resources to assist with your daily caregiving needs. If you start to experience chronic caregiver stress, then that may be a red flag for knowing it’s time to consider in-home care options. And enlisting the help of other people doesn’t mean that you’ve given up; if anything, it may help you to improve what you’re doing.

Join a Support Group

Being a family caregiver is undoubtedly challenging; being a spousal caregiver may be even more overwhelming in many ways. While you may have friends that can relate to caregiving on a basic level, it’s a different emotional journey when you’re caring for the person you’ve dedicated your life to. Consider joining a support group so that you can engage in conversations with people sharing like-minded experiences and, in turn, feel empowered to regain control of your own mental state again.

If you’re a spousal caregiver, we know our community would love to hear what your experience has been like. Feel free to share any tips you may have when it comes to how you’ve been able to balance your caregiving journey with your marriage.

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.