Caregiving isn’t something we choose. In most cases, it’s thrust upon us in the worst of circumstances. Mom goes into the hospital and can never be at home alone again. A diagnosis is made, and it quickly becomes apparent that dad needs daily care.
As the child, you do the responsible thing and commit to caring form mom or dad seven days of the week. In some cases that means visiting them every day. And in some cases, it may be moving them into your home for 24/7 care.
It works for you. But what about for the other relationship in your life? Your relationship with your spouse, partner, or significant other?
While moving to the caregiving role can be a surprise for you, it can be more than overwhelming to your significant other. While its easy to move your focus to the one you’ll now be providing care for, don’t forget the importance of the other relationship in your life too.
Caregiving Tip #1 Give your relationship priority
Too often caregiving is all-consuming, and takes up every moment of your day. You put off everything else, focusing on the day to day problems you face in your new role. Yet you had a life before you took on this role, and you should fight to keep parts of your life during the process as well. This new role as caregiver may be something you have to do. But never forget to give time to keep a healthy perspective between you.
Caregiving Tip #2 Give each other time away
Being able to provide strength for each other also means maintaining your own inner strength. Be each other’s support system. Give each other time away. One of you may prefer to hit the gym for an hour each morning. Another may prefer to spend an afternoon at the spa every month. Keep your personal priorities and build them into your daily lives.
Caregiving Tip #3 Communicate and share
Busyness often means you put off conversations in order to get tasks done. Yet communication is key. Create time each day to share your thoughts and talk about any misgivings you may have. Choose a time and put it into your schedule each day – a walk around the park after work, or talking before bedtime works well. It’s better to air problems as they occur rather than letting them fester.
Caregiving Tip #4 Be truthful
Caregiving can bring all kinds of changes to a relationship. Siblings may enter the picture, wanting different things than you provide. It can also touch off problems with friends and family not intimately connected to the situation. Remember, your partner is your soulmate. This is the person you should confide in and communicate with more than anyone else. Even when difficult situations arise, trust that your partner has your best interest at heart. Listen to what they have to say and talk over your differences.
Caregiving Tip #5 Appreciate each other
Don’t forget that your partner needs care too. Plan special outings together. Be sure to help each other as often as you can. Show you care even in the tiniest of ways. And never forget to say thank you along the way. You’re a team. And while every moment can be a difficult process, a difficult transition, being on the same side will help pull you through together.