Caregivers naturally place a great deal of focus on loved ones who require care, but "couple care" is important, too. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your marriage healthy.
Feb 27, 2017
As Lynda Hacker and her husband, Carlos, discovered, being caregivers for aging parents puts a strain on a marriage. It’s natural to focus on the older loved ones, but that often means the caregivers’ personal lives get shortchanged. We asked the experts at Home Instead Senior Care for their tips on how a caregiving couple can keep their marriage strong.
Find daily moments to connect. Share a devotional before the day gets crazy. Take a coffee break or go for a walk together. Lynda Hacker says, “We prayed with each other every day, even if it was over the phone.”
Double up. Typically, one caregiver takes the elderly parent to the doctor, the store, the park. What if both of you go? Accompanying your spouse on errands isn’t quite the same as a romantic dinner, but it does give you more time with each other. Those long waits at doctors’ offices can be an opportunity for a good talk.
Spread the work around. Is one of you taking a much more active role in caregiving than the other? Rebalance the workload. Do you both have full schedules? Ask relatives, friends and your faith community for help with things that don’t absolutely require your presence. If you’re considering professional caregiving help, contact Home Instead Senior Care at (866) 996-1085 or homeinstead.com/guideposts for a free consultation.
Talk. It’s good to use together time to distract yourselves from the stresses of caregiving. But too much distraction can keep a couple from connecting on a deeper level. Make time to share your feelings and concerns.
Get outside support too. Join a caregiver support group (online if there isn’t one in your area). You’ll get advice and encouragement from people in your situation, and you’ll see that what you’re experiencing is normal.
Schedule “we” time. Pick a day and time, plan an activity and follow through. If you leave plans up in the air, it’s easy for other things to get in the way. Make “we” time feel like an indulgence; do something you enjoyed before you became caregivers.
Have realistic expectations. Don’t spread yourselves too thin trying to be the perfect spouse, child, parent, sibling and caregiver. Sometimes one role will require more of you, sometimes another. Accept that a good effort is enough.
For more tips on family caregiving, go to homeinstead.com/guideposts.
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