Caregiver, Couples and Compassion: The Emotional Aspects of Spousal Dementia Caregiving

In sickness and in health… When we get married, these are words we all hear. We vow to be there for the one we love for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health. While ‘in sickness or in health’ may not hit too close to home at a young age, as couples get older this becomes a very possible reality, especially with the rise of health problems such as memory loss. “The amount of seniors and their loved ones facing a memory loss diagnosis is truly upsetting,” says Kelly Carroll, Director of Community Relations at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “This is something you never want to see someone go through, much less someone you love. Many times, those with dementia rely on their spouses to provide them with care and support, leading many spouses to become their primary caregivers.” Although it may seem obvious that spouses are the perfect people for the job, that doesn’t mean it comes without emotional difficulties. Spousal caregivers are often ridden with emotions such as uncertainty, sadness, stress, overwhelm, isolation and – unfortunately – guilt. It’s important to recognize and be aware of these emotional aspects in order to be the best caregiver you can be, while also being the happiest you can be, even in spite of caregiving for a loved one with dementia.

Uncovering the Emotional Aspects of Spousal Caregiving

If you are serving as a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, it’s crucial to realize that no two caregivers react the same to their situation. Some may be confident they are perfect for the job, while others may dread the thought. This is all ok. Realize that you are not alone and that there’s no ‘right way’ to feel throughout your journey. Below are some of the most common emotions and tips on how to manage and deal with them. ● Uncertainty that you’re cut out for caregiving. Many caregivers feel like they aren’t cut out for the job. At the beginning of dementia, your loved one may still be able to do a lot of the things they could before, however, as time goes by, their needs may increase. To help push this emotion aside, you can join a support group and educate yourself as much as possible about dementia. This can help you prepare for the future. Be sure to talk about your loved one’s preferences for care, as well, to be sure you are giving them what they want. ● Frustration at the shift of balance. Although your loved one may not be able to help with things throughout the house, it’s important that they find other ways to connect with you and assist. Talk with them about how you are emotionally and let them help with tasks that they can still do. ● Depression with the loss of intimacy. As care needs change, you may not be able to be as emotionally close as you were before. Although this may be the case, it’s important to still find ways to spend time together outside of your typical caregiving role. Go for walks together, adapt activities you used to love to do together, put on your favorite music and dance or reminisce together. ● Overwhelm due to endless everyday tasks. Caregivers are likely to suffer from caregiver burnout and stress. Whether they are taking care of meals, picking up prescriptions, keeping up with cleaning and grocery shopping or are facing the demands of providing care that is just too overwhelming, it can help to see if someone would be willing to help. Ask a friend or family member to do some tasks for you so you can relax or take a small break. This can allow you to let go of some stress while improving your mood and health. ● Fear of what the future holds. Educate yourself as much as possible about their form of dementia. This can help to give you an accurate picture of what is to come as the disease progresses. Talk with someone you know has served as a caregiver to a loved one with dementia before or consider contacting a local Memory Care community to learn more. ● Guilt at feeling burdened or not providing the best care. During your journey through memory loss, it’s important to give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. You are likely still learning as you go along. According to the Mayo Clinic, caregivers can combat guilty emotions by thinking positively, taking care of themselves, joining a support group and finding local resources that can help you and your loved one such as respite care. It’s important to take caregiving day by day and to realize that over time, you will adapt. There are plenty of resources available to help you, including the team at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. For more information or questions regarding spousal caregiving, contact us today!

Inspired • Engaged • Fulfilled

Offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care, YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens was designed specifically with residents in mind. We know your life is shaped by family, friends, hobbies, passions and more, so we’ve created a community where you can enjoy comfort, independence and engagement, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define your own lifestyle. Here, we shape each thing we do around you, from your routines and interests to your choices and preferences, to create an inspiring lifestyle that fits YourLife™ perfectly. Because we are completely shaped around you, our residents get more of out their lives. With exceptional care delivered by a dedicated and compassionate team and a fulfilling lifestyle full of choice and convenience, residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. Each day holds something new for residents. Whether they are enjoying our exclusive activities, learning something new or simply engaging in our YourStory programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. Do you enjoy making new discoveries and trying new hobbies, simply want to continue the hobbies you love or enjoy some time to yourself to relax? At YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, the choice is up to you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 561-246-6102 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.