Has your stress gone through the roof since you've been caring for your spouse at home? Many spousal caregivers feel guilty to admit the stress and difficulty they experience when caring for their beloved spouse, but please remember, you're not alone.
Many report that they do everything for their spouses from bathing and dressing to preparing all meals to laying out pills, and planning out meals that follow a special diet. This can create both a physical and emotional burden for senior caregivers that can eventually take a toll on your own wellness—and the quality of care you are able to provide.
Luckily, there are alternatives to this environment that can help empower you and your spouse so the two of you can enjoy your golden years together.
How to Find Balance in Senior Life When You’re Caring for a Spouse
Don’t let guilt stop you from considering assisted living in a retirement community. There’s a common perception that assisted living means consigning their spouses to the care of faceless strangers in a dreary institution, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Assisted living isn’t a nursing home—and nursing care has itself come a long way in the last few years. Retirement communities understand that you're looking for an extension of your current lifestyle with all of the amenities and none of the labor-intensive activities that keeping up with a personal residence is associated with.
And they offer several levels of care available to resident seniors.
For some caregivers they find that simply not having to do the yard work, pay all of the separate utility bills each month or carry a mortgage lifts a burden. With the free time they find in a retirement apartment, they can continue caring for their spouse and also have time for themselves—and the new friends they make.
When you living in a community of like-minded peers, you’ll be able to find plenty of friends and neighbors to play tennis or bridge or join the golf club, even if your husband or wife is unable to join.
Think about it. When was the last time you were able to get out for a movie night or dinner with friends? If you can't remember, it may simply be because it's been too difficult to arrange. But with the community setting of most retirement apartments, these kinds of activities become convenient— even your spouse can enjoy a night of socializing.
If you need a little extra help to make sure that your spouse is getting the best possible care, retirement communities typically offer and array of care services— provided as additional “ala carte” services in an independent living apartment or as part of an assisted living arrangement.
Many retirement communities offer a complete medical staff that includes nursing around the clock, physical therapy and even recreational therapists. Arranging to live in a setting like this still allows you to play an integral role, but helps lift the cloud of resentment that is so often associated with caring for a spouse. You can become free of resentment, guilt, fear, sadness and stress by choosing to allow well-qualified individuals into your assisted living apartment. Many seniors report a renewed bond when choosing assisted living. The cared for spouse experiences increased confidence and the caregiver relief and contentment.
Finding assisted care that fits your needs.
Of course there’s no one size fits all approach. You may choose to continue caring for your spouse at home, but at least gaining the support of others in the community and loved ones will help reduce your stress and allow you to enjoy senior life with some freedom. Never be afraid to say, “This is too much for me to handle alone.” Understanding what your limitations are can actually be your greatest advantage— for your wellbeing and your spouse.