Caring For Your Sick or Disabled Spouse? 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself and Your Partner

It’s unfortunate that anyone has to live with and suffer from an illness or disability. Being that person's sole caregiver, however, is no walk in the park either. Caring for your spouse is a big responsibility. It’s highly demanding on many different levels. It often carries its own heavy burdens: physical exhaustion, overwhelming emotions, sentiments of guilt, depression, fear, injustice, sadness, and even anger.

Here are some ways for you to take care of yourself and your partner during this important life transition.

1. Lose the Guilt

Guilt can arise easily in this situation. You may feel guilty for being healthy or for having a good time while your spouse can't join you. You can also feel guilty for experiencing anger and resentment toward your spouse because of the life, activities, relationship, and intimacy you may have lost. If your spouse is aware enough to realize what is happening, he or she may also have built up some heavy guilt for making your life so difficult.

Guilt will not help either of you. You have to accept those feelings and let them go. If possible, talk honestly about the feelings you’re both experiencing. If talking isn’t possible or comfortable, you can write it down. Find a peaceful way to acknowledge all the feelings without assigning blame or cultivating guilt.

2. Home Care Services

If you can afford it, get professional nursing help, either full-time or for just a few days a week, to get some well-deserved rest. If your spouse is lucid enough, having a third party in charge of the more ‘personally invasive’ tasks might save you both a great deal of emotional discomfort.

If nursing care is not an option, consider having help around the house. Family and friends can be a big help with cleaning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. Accept all the help you can get!

3. Address Your Emotions

You might love your partner dearly but still catch yourself silently wishing you didn’t have to care for him or her. Those emotions are normal and they can vary greatly from time to time, depending on your life situation, your health, and your busy schedule.

Counseling and support groups are great ways to get the emotional understanding and support you need in your situation. Your counselor and support group members may even share helpful tips for coping with your situation.

4. Laughter

Make room for laughter. If possible, watch comedies together or spend time with a friend to bring joy and simplicity back into your life. Laughter has medical and psychological properties. A good laugh will keep you going longer and restore positive energy, which will benefit the entire family.

5. You First

You can’t help anyone if you are falling apart yourself. Keep a close eye on your own health and stay active, eat well, and get plenty of rest. Talk to your doctor or counselor if you start experiencing chronic health problems or signs of depression. To care for your spouse, you need to take care of yourself first.

6. Make a schedule

Reduce your mental worries by establishing a schedule. Make sure to block out time for yourself and your favorite activities or to get some fresh air with your partner . Routines can alleviate stress and help you remember to take care of yourself as well. Balance is important for both of you.

7. Find Love Again

Longing for how your life used to be will not help anyone. Though you can’t go back in time or change the circumstances, you can try to create new tender moments with each other. Try to have some quality time together that does not involve daily caregiving responsibilities. Go for walks, watch the sunset, put on music and candles, allow love to co-exist with your life’s new responsibilities.