As seniors age, the more likely it becomes that will need some help or extra care to remain as healthy or independent as possible. Many times, spouses are the ones who care for one another as they age. Whether this means assisting them with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming or taking medication or simply being there to provide help whenever they need it, the transition from spouse to a caregiving spouse can be a big adjustment.
According to Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Grandbrier® of Prospect Heights, a senior living community in Prospect Heights, IL, there are many changes that occur in relationships when a spouse begins caring for a loved one. “The way your relationship once was will begin to change because of caregiving, no matter how independent your loved one may still be,” says Diane. “Your spouse may begin to need more help, have a hard time adjusting to the fact you need to care for them, and you could have a hard time dealing with the fact caregiving can take over most of your relationship. Fortunately, if you prepare for the changes ahead of time and begin to adjust, caring for your spouse may not be so difficult.”
Simple Ways to Make the Transition to Full-Time Caregiving Easier
If you are going to be serving as your spouse’s caregiver, try some of these ideas to help make the transition a little smoother.
● Talk to other spouses who became caregivers. If you don’t know what to expect prior to serving as the primary caregiver for your spouse, try to find someone who has cared for their loved one before. They will be able to tell you their experiences, provide you with advice and practical tips as well as give you some extra support when you need it.
● Understand your emotions are normal. Some new caregivers may find themselves stressed, upset, overwhelmed and depressed. In the beginning, these feelings are normal. You may be having trouble adjusting to your new role, might have difficulty balancing time between being a caregiver and a spouse or may even not feel as though you want to be a caregiver. Instead of feeling guilty about these emotions and dwelling on them, understand that it’s ok to feel how you are. Reach out and find support or talk about how you are feeling to someone close to you.
● Put a plan in place. When you begin serving as your spouse’s caregiver, it’s important to think about the future. Will you be the primary caregiver for your loved one at all times, or will others step in to help you if needed or as time goes on? Try to plan who these people will be and talk to your spouse about what they would prefer in the future. Would they like to stay at home as their needs progress, or do they understand that this may not always be possible and consider assisted living? Putting a plan in place ahead of time can help to make the transition easier for both you as the caregiver and your spouse.
● Join a support group. Not only can support groups help you feel as though there’s someone who understands what you are going through, but it’s an amazing outlet for when you feel lonely, upset or isolated as a result of caregiving. Support groups can be a time where you can meet others with similar journeys, share your stories and experiences and just connect. You can find one near you by talking to your spouse’s doctor or searching online.
● Ask for help when you need it. It’s common for caregivers to feel alone and like they need to do everything themselves, however, this can cause more stress and burnout. It’s important that you ask for help when you get overwhelmed or need some extra assistance. Do your children live close by? See if they can pick up prescriptions, grab some groceries or stay with your spouse while you get some errands done. If someone asks you what they can do to help you, be specific and delegate tasks, as this can make it clear exactly what you need help with and when.
● Practice patience. Caring for a spouse is not always easy. It’s easy for it to consume your days and nights, which can be overwhelming. Try to be as patient as possible with your loved one and yourself. Remember you are still learning and adjusting to the changes you are both facing and to give yourself some grace to make mistakes and settle into your new role.
● Take care of yourself. Although it may be hard to find time in your new caregiving schedule, one of the best things you can do is make a routine out of taking care of yourself right from the beginning. Be sure to exercise, eat healthily and find time to do the things you love. Not only can this combat caregiver stress, but it can allow you to remain healthy and keep feeling good.
● Spend quality time with your loved one aside from caregiving. Although it can be easy to focus solely on caregiving, it’s important to still spend time together as spouses. Try to set aside time to keep doing things you love to do together. If possible, go for walks or go out for dinner, have a date night in with takeout and a movie, dance to your favorite songs or make a meal together. These things can help bring you closer than before and help give you a much-needed break from caregiving.
For more information about serving as your spouse’s caregiver or tips on how to better adjust, contact the team at Grandbrier® of Prospect Heights. We can provide you with advice and support to make your transition to caregiving easier. Call us today at 847-243-6920.
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Live Well Beyond Ordinary at Grandbrier®
Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Care, Grandbrier® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.
Grandbrier of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA! programming by Pathway to Living™.
Managed by Pathway to Living™, an innovator in senior living, Grandbrier offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.
For more information, please call Diane or Janette, Lifestyle Specialists, at 847-243-6920.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Grandbrier of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.