Having to care for ageing parents is a common reality for many middle-aged couples due to cost, care, and trust. A lot of time, patience, and effort go into taking care of an elderly family member.
If your partner or spouse has taken on the role of caring for an ageing parent or parents, we have a list of five ways you can help support your caregiving spouse.
1. Become knowledgeable
Not all of us are doctors, and when a medical professional informs us of the health issues our loved ones have, it is up to us to further our knowledge of the condition.
There might be times where your spouse has to be his parent’s advocate. Being in this position is not easy, and you can assist your spouse by creating a list of questions he can ask the doctor to help make informed decisions.
Take the time to learn all that you can about any health issues or even ones similar to the issue the doctor said your in-law has.
Providing an informative second opinion will be valuable to your partner, and he will feel better having your support when it comes time to make any serious calls.
2. Have a listening ear
Opening up your ears is another way to be supportive of your spouse. Listening to your spouse means you are providing the emotional support he needs. If your lives consist of work, children, friends, household duties, pets, and more, adding in the responsibility of caring for a family into the mix can add a significant amount of stress.
When your partner comes to you to vent, you will want to make sure he has your complete attention.
This will allow him to get any complaints off of his chest.
3. Prioritize teamwork
The easiest way to lighten the load of your partner is to pitch in and be a team player. A caregiver is likely trying to juggle many life responsibilities of her own, along with the responsibilities of the person she is caring for.
To help her find some solace, volunteer to take a few tasks off of their hands, or go out of your way to let them know you care.
You know your spouse best, look to choose a task or do something thoughtful for your partner that will speak directly to her love language. In a time where she is stressed out or spread too thin, one little deed could mean the world to her.
4. Be a reminder of self-care
In order for your spouse to care for others, they have to care for themselves, first. To do that, you have to help them set boundaries to avoid burnout. The easiest way to set a boundary is to define the lines from the very beginning.
If you see that your spouse is beginning to blur those lines, it is up to you to remind him that their wellbeing is beginning to dwindle, and they need to press the reset button.
Approach your partner in a very loving manner and be clear about your observation. Encourage them to set aside a time each day to care for themselves and relax.
5. Recognize when it’s time to get additional help
There will come a day that caring for an ageing loved one becomes too much. If you have not been in your spouse’s shoes, you can only relate and provide helpful advice to a certain extent.
Encourage your spouse to join a support group or to seek counseling from a professional.
These sessions will allow them to talk with people who can directly relate and provide the next level of advice needed.
If the situation has surpassed seeking additional help, there are many senior living facilities or in-home care professionals that provide the care your family member may need. Help your partner look for a facility or caregiving network. Conduct research or talk to friends in a similar predicament for additional information and advice.
As your in-laws begin to age and the responsibility of taking care of them becomes a topic of discussion, it is important that you support your spouse in these five ways. Learn to move with the ebb and flow of life together, but more importantly, learn to be the rock your partner needs. Always remember, you will get through it together!