When you get the news that your spouse has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease, it can be the scariest moment of your life. Happily ever after suddenly becomes a big question mark. In the beginning days after diagnosis, your spouse may seem fine, but if the disease is progressive, the inevitable decline in health is coming. For the meantime, you may become your spouse’s caregiver, with all the responsibilities included in that title. If this is the first time you have had to take on the role, here is some advice for caregiving spouses.
Education is Important
After the diagnosis, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the disease. Maintaining a positive but realistic mindset throughout the caregiving process is an integral part of being a support system for your spouse. Understand enough about the condition to ask questions during doctors’ visits, and be prepared to handle setbacks. The more you know about the disease, the more prepared you will be to take care of the person you love.
Take Care of Yourself
In an effort to do everything possible for your spouse, you may forget to take care of yourself during this time, but that would be a big mistake. You’re not useful to anyone else if you are feeling rundown, sick, or exhausted. The best thing that you can do for your spouse is to make sure that you are staying healthy. This includes getting enough sleep at night and taking the time to exercise, even if it just means a quick walk around the block every day. Mental health is also important, so if you are dealing with any continued sadness or depression, it might be a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced caregiver counselor.
Work on Your Reactions
Similarly to taking care of your mental health, work on maintaining a positive mindset around your spouse. Remember, they may be in chronic pain and dealing with having the disease themselves, which is enough to create sadness in anyone. It’s best for you and them if you work on controlling your reactions to things that you cannot control. If you get bad news at the doctor’s office, or if your loved one has an accident, take a moment to breathe and count to 10 if you need to separate yourself from your initial reaction of frustration. Acting out in anger will not help anyone in this situation.
Caregiving Spouses Should Know
Your marriage will change drastically, and this may be hard to understand at first. It’s ok to feel lonely, sad, and angry, but know that there are healthier ways of dealing with your negative emotions. Your spouse needs you at your best, and that may mean that you will have to deal with your grieving in another way, such as with a support group or therapist. Each day may be different, and this may be a very different life than you imagined with your spouse at this age, but the important thing to remember is that there is no real right or wrong. This is your journey with your spouse, and as long as you practice care and kindness, it will be easier for both of you.
As mentioned, finding support in a caregiving group or among friends and family will be extremely important as you embark as a caregiver. You will need days off, and it will be important to have good friends by your side to help you remember to enjoy life. Don’t feel bad about taking a weekend to relax or asking someone to watch your spouse while you run errands. Support is essential to your ability to be a caregiver, and if those around you love and care for you, they will understand your need to have a life outside of caregiving.
If you need additional help inside the home, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We can connect you with our network of qualified caregivers and nurses who can assist you full-time or part-time in the comfort of your own home. If your spouse is happiest in familiar surroundings, we can be there to help you care for your loved one when you need a break or when you need to work.
Contact us today at 786-518-3622 in Miami or 954-949-1332 in Broward.
Signs that Spousal Caregiving May Be Becoming Too Risky for You. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/signs-of-stress/signs-spousal-caregiving-too-risky/
How to Stay Sane and Healthy as a Caregiver Spouse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.transitionagingparents.com/2017/06/13/how-to-stay-sane-and-healthy-as-a-caregiver-spouse/