Reportedly, nurturing their marriage is one of the greatest challenges family caregivers encounter when caring for an aging loved one. The stress, fears and frustration that come with being a caregiver can take a real toll on relationships. The non-caregiving partner may feel as if they are being ignored or that they are often on the receiving end of their spouse’s misplaced anger. The caregiving partner may be frustrated at what they perceive is a lack of understanding or support. Finding a healthy balance between caring for a senior loved one and maintaining a happy marriage takes work.
7 Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Healthy While Caring for a Senior Loved One
1. Communicate: While your spouse may understand that you have to be away from your home more than you would like to be, they still might be feeling ignored and neglected. Small things like sending text messages throughout the day might help them feel more connected.
2. Show Appreciation: It might be easy to take your partner for granted when you are feeling overwhelmed with all the duties caregiving requires. Try not to fall into that trap. Instead, make a point of showing and telling your spouse that you appreciate their patience, understanding and support.
3. Find a Support Group: Your partner may be sympathetic to your daily caregiving challenges and struggles, but hearing those complaints day in and day out might be wearing. Try to connect with a support group of peers who you can vent to instead. An online support group might be the best fit for your busy caregiving schedule.
4. Menu Planning: If you routinely bake and freeze meals for your senior loved one, make a few more to stash in your own freezer. It will allow your spouse to also enjoy a healthy dinner when your caregiving duties keep you away from home.
5. Elder-Care-Free Talks: Giving yourself and your partner a time out from hearing about caregiving-related issues is important for your mental health and your marriage. Make time every day to talk and catch up without any talk about elder care.
6. Prioritize: You might want to check in on your aging family member several times a day, but ask yourself if you really need to do so? Can you utilize technology such as Skype or a home monitoring system to have virtual visits with them instead?
7. Respite Care: Make it a point to routinely use respite care services so you can enjoy a worry-free date night with your partner and to take regular vacations. Many senior living communities and in-home care agencies can provide respite services to give you the time away that you need.
We hope these tips provide you with some ideas for nurturing your marriage while caring for a senior loved one.