Vowing to “have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live” does not necessarily mean taking on the role of sole caregiver, regardless of the toll it takes on your own well-being. Much research has been done to understand the negative effects that caring for a declining spouse have on the health of the well spouse. Regardless of whether the spouse is caring for a loved one who has physical and medical needs or dementia, the effects on the well spouse are dramatic.
On average, three-quarters of the caregiver’s day is devoted to assistance. The burden of various tasks such as cooking, housekeeping, administering medications, and the need to ensure continuous care during the day and night affect all aspects of the senior caregiver’s life. The responsibility can take an enormous emotional and physical toll, especially when added to the psychological distress of watching a loved one deteriorate. This can result in distress, anxiety, illness or depression.
Elderly caregivers tend to overlook and underestimate their own somatic complaints to the point of living with extremely precarious health conditions. External factors can also affect their health and well-being, including social isolation and giving up activities to care for their spouse.
In order for the caregiver spouse to have any quality of life, help is essential. Fortunately, couples don’t have to give up living together for both to get the assistance they need. But they may need to consider moving out of their home and into a senior living community like Highgate.
With both Assisted Living and Memory Care available, couples can either live together in the same suite, or be just a short walk away from each other, regardless of care needs. Highgate staff handles the meals, medications, housekeeping, laundry, dressing, hygiene and even nighttime necessities for the spouse in need, so the well spouse has some time and space to address personal needs and interests. This living situation allows both spouses to put an end to the stress and focus on simply enjoying their precious time together.
The lesson? Don’t take it all on yourself. At this stage in your life, you deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing your spouse is getting the best care possible. Chances are you’ll both be around a little longer as a result. QCBN
For more information about Highgate Senior Living and the options for couples care, please contact the community nearest you.