Nearly 40 percent of seniors have at least one disability. One in three will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The statistics are sobering, but convey little meaning until they affect you. Whether you’ve lived a long life together or are newlyweds pursuing a second—or third or fourth—act, caring for an ailing spouse can be heartbreaking. Many people who care for their spouses feel obligated to do it all on their own. That’s a recipe for burnout, resentment, and exhaustion. The right senior living options can give both of you the help and support you need and offer stress relief that allows you to enjoy your relationship once again.
How Caregiving Affects Caregivers
Caregiving often begins as just a few lifestyle changes here and there—going out less, supporting your spouse more, doing more driving. Over time, this trickle can turn into a flood. You might not even realize how much your life has changed until you pause to reflect on your past.
As you focus on caring for an ailing spouse, it’s easy to forget about your own well-being. Indeed, thinking about what you need might even feel selfish. Yet to provide quality care for your spouse, you must also take care of yourself. Caregiver stress is real. Caregivers are more vulnerable to a number of health issues, including:
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic health issues
- Chronic pain
- Substance abuse
No One Can Do It All
When seniors seek care in assisted living or hospitals, they receive care from an entire team. These are highly trained professionals, and yet none of them attempt to do it on their own. That’s because no one can do it all. Caregiving is intense, exhausting work. There’s no paid time off or vacation. So if people who have spent their lives caring for others know they can’t do it all, what makes you think you can?
The love for a spouse is intense. You’ve built a life together; you know your spouse’s fears, their strengths, and their needs better than anyone. So you might think that you owe it to them to provide them constant care. The truth is that if you’re caring for your spouse on your own 24 hours a day, it’s simply impossible for you to do a great job and care for yourself. Something will fall through the cracks.
Don’t allow guilt or obligation to push you into caregiving work that makes you feel exhausted and that doesn’t meet your spouse’s needs. It’s OK to ask for help.
How Senior Living Supports Your Spouse
Senior living gives you a break from caregiving by meeting your spouse’s physical needs. Depending on your spouse’s needs, this might be as simple as reassurance that someone will always be there in the event of an emergency. Or, if your spouse needs more intensive care, this could mean 24/7 support in a memory unit.
Senior living is about more than just physical support, though. Your spouse is a dynamic, thoughtful person who deserves an engaging and fulfilling existence. Many caregivers find that they can’t offer care while also engaging a spouse’s mind and heart. It’s just too much. In senior living, that changes. Your spouse will have access to:
- Quality meals eaten in an engaging setting
- Numerous classes
- Community outings
- Special events such as festivals, dances, and socials
- As many friends as they can manage; a new friend may be just a few steps outside of your loved one’s door
How Senior Living Supports You
Senior living also helps caregivers. Arbor, for example, offers support groups that can help you master new skills and better understand your emotions. But senior living isn’t just about getting support; it’s also about reclaiming your relationship.
Many caregivers find that their passionate romantic connection dies a slow death in the daily grind of caregiving. Get it back by outsourcing the grunt work to someone else. Instead of spending time bathing your loved one, take a relaxing bath yourself and then head out on a date together.
You deserve to feel good. Self-care can help you live a better and longer life, while ensuring you have the energy necessary to support your loved one. Giving yourself the care you deserve—daily exercise, quality meals, relaxing sleep—can help you avoid needing your own caregiver. You’re worth it. You deserve it. Your spouse needs you to take care of yourself so you can take care of them. Do both by choosing the perfect senior living community.
Senior living comes in many forms, from independent options to support healthy seniors who need a break to the intensive care of memory and dementia communities. Arbor offers options to suit every senior’s needs. Want to learn more? Check out our Journey to Senior Living guide.