“In Health & Sickness, for Better or Worse”: Help for Spousal Caregivers

“In Health & Sickness, for Better or Worse”: Help for Spousal Caregivers

You vividly remember the wedding vows you made to your spouse, promising to love him/her despite the challenges that the two of you might encounter.

You successfully navigate life together for a number of years, and then a new challenge unlike any other confronts you

-due to an accident or illness, your spouse requires daily caregiving, either short-term or long-term. Now what?

Impact of Caregiving on a Spouse

It is estimated that in 2020, 5.7 million people in the United States were performing the role of caregiver for a spouse or partner. Spousal caregiving comes with unique challenges.

These challenges may include the following: intimacy with your spouse, your ability to continue to hold down a job, finances, your retirement plans, and the division of labor in your home that you and your spouse had previously negotiated.

Caregiving for your spouse might impact you as follows: depressed mood, trouble sleeping, increased blood pressure, weight loss/gain, loss of shared past times, loss of couple friends, and anger and resentment over the loss of retirement dreams.

Fortunately, there are techniques and resources to help you cope more effectively.

Caregiver Coping Techniques

To manage your stress from caregiving for your spouse, remember the acronym


• Health. Pay extra attention to your own health, and be sure you are eating well, exercising, and receiving your own regular check-ups.

• Emotions. Accept all your emotions—sadness, anger, fear, frustration.

• Assistance. Learn to ask for help from friends, family, or neighbors. In addition, consider a support group for caregivers, and contact your local council on aging for additional resources.

• Respite. Learn about agencies that might be able to provide in-home care for your spouse, at least part of the day.

• Time. Take time to enjoy an outing with your friends or family, read a book, get a massage, or engage in a favorite hobby. Also, learn to accommodate your spouse’s changing abilities and make time for you both as a couple.

Finally, contacting a Licensed Professional Counselor can provide you with the ability to explore the changes you are experiencing in your relationship with your spouse.

Through counseling, you can process your emotions, learn relaxation techniques, and make meaning out of your new role as a caregiver.

Lisa Johnson, LPC


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