If you’re a caregiver for a spouse or loved one, you’re not alone. According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, over 43 million unpaid people provided care for someone in the past year. These caregivers spent an average of 24 hours per week taking care of their loved ones, and one in four caregivers spent more time (41 hours per week) than working a full-time job providing unpaid care.
Sometimes a spouse needs care because of an accident, illness, or a diagnosis that turned a family’s life upside-down. Sometimes they need care because the aging process has left them unable to perform some of the basic functions of life that were once routine for them. This fully independent family member often must turn to a spouse for the care that they now need.
Caregiving’s Emotional Side
If you’re caring for your spouse, you both will experience a variety of strong emotional responses. This is perfectly normal.
Your spouse’s changes, whether it be from illness, disability, or aging, will test both of you. Bitterness and anger are normal feelings you may experience. You should also prepare yourself to feel anxiety and fear that you’ll be unable to handle your new role and responsibilities emotionally or physically.
Additionally, you may go through the grieving process and mourn the loss of your spouse’s independence as you struggle to adapt to the reality that your future has taken on a whole new look. You may feel isolated during quiet times or sad that many of your personal needs aren’t being met any longer.
Besides the emotional toll caregiving takes on a spouse, there is also a price paid physically and mentally. Your ability to give care depends on your ability to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.
A study on the mental and physical effects of caregiving found that:
- Caregivers often live with chronic stress, which impacts a caregiver’s psychological and physical health
- One of the most common adverse effects of caregiving is depression
- Caring for a spouse with dementia can cause more severe adverse health effects than other kinds of caregiving
It’s important to remember that if you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to carry out your caregiving duties. A balanced diet, good sleep habits, and regular exercise become necessities when you’re caring for a spouse.
When It Becomes Too Much
Maybe you’re at the beginning of your journey as a caregiver, and you know that you can’t personally provide the care your spouse requires. Or you might be months or years into acting as a spousal caregiver, and every day is an exhausting struggle to carry out your duties and responsibilities.
Fortunately, you can find assistance in a variety of ways, including:
- Local support groups
- Family and friends
- Online resources such as caregiving sites and blogs
- Podcasts on caregiving
- Caregiving related books
- National groups such as The National Alliance for Caregiving, Meals on Wheels, and the Well Spouse Association
- Professional home care providers
There are also positive aspects to being a caregiver, like the feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction that come with caring for your spouse when they need it most. This time together will provide many special memories and moments that you will always carry with you.
New Wave Home Care Can Provide the Help You Need
Determining when it’s time to get professional care for your spouse is never easy. Finding a reliable in-home caregiver that provides caring respite care, personal care, transitional care, medication reminders, specialized care, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care, and hospice support can be challenging.
Contact us today for a free in-home assessment by a nurse before any assignment is started. A nurse will also visit periodically during the assignment to re-evaluate your loved one’s needs and level of care.
If you’re in the greater Pasadena area – we can help. To learn more about New Wave Home Care, the caregiving services we provide, and the areas we service, please visit us today at www.newwavehomecare.com.