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Caring for a Partner

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 11 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Caring For A Partner Looking After

As we are all living longer these days it’s likely that at some point in retirement, a person is going to have to care for a spouse whose health might have deteriorated to an extent, whereby they need help and support. The level of support might vary and, depending on the medical conditions of both the sufferer and the caring spouse, to care for your loved one at home might not always be possible. However, if you intend caring for your partner at home there are many aspects to consider.

Talking To Your Partner
A care providing role will usually result after one partner begins to notice that things aren’t quite right with their loved one or they may tell you this themselves. When that happens, you need to sit down with your partner and discuss how they are feeling, try to ascertain their symptoms and ask what difficulties they are experiencing with day to day life so that you can establish ways in which you can help. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds. For example, as they get older, some people feel very vulnerable about their diminishing health.

It’s often difficult for them to accept that they may not be able to live their lives as independently as they once could. They may not want to admit that there is anything wrong with them and one of their biggest fears is that they may start to think that they’ll have no option but to leave their home and go into a residential care home if they’re no longer able to cope. Therefore, you might need to use a lot of tact and diplomacy when raising the issue of your partner’s health.

Ultimately, however, the objective is to establish what might be causing their ill health and to do this properly, you should be looking to have your loved one checked out by professional medical staff which would probably start with your GP. Even if the person who’s not feeling well tells you that, providing you help out with this or that, they’ll be OK, it’s recommended that you still get them an appointment with a GP in case their symptoms are an underlying presence of something more serious. That way, once you have things clarified as to your loved one’s condition, you will be far better placed to give them the proper support.

Issues to Consider
The extent to which your partner needs your assistance will very much depend upon the severity of their condition but here are a few issues you may need to consider.
  • Mobility - You may need to consider how your partner is able to get around both inside and outside the home. This may include having to lift them and, in this situation, it’s important that you seek advice as there may be a need to bring in external assistance to help with this. You may need to obtain crutches or a wheelchair and, in extreme cases, you may also need to look at things such as installing a stair lift and bath hoist, for example and might need to help out with things like getting them to the toilet, in and out of bed and washing and dressing them

  • Meals and groceries - If you’re not able to cook for your loved one, you may need to obtain a ‘meals on wheels’ service and if cooking isn’t the problem but getting to the shops is, you may want to consider buying online or over the phone. Most major supermarkets now deliver to your door

  • Medication - Depending on the severity of your partner’s condition, you might be the person who will need to administer their medication. Alternatively, if your loved ones can do that themselves, you may need to keep reminding them or leave notes for them. But if you’re in any doubt about them remembering to take the correct medication at the right time of day, you should take over that responsibility

  • Home Improvements - You might also need to consider home improvements to make life easier for your partner. This could range from simple DIY adjustments like lowering a mirror to full scale structural changes such as widening doorways, building an extension or installing a stair lift or bath hoist

  • Finance – There may be additional financial help you can get from the government to help with these kinds of improvements and your loved one may also be eligible for additional benefits as a result of their condition, so you need to find out what you’re entitled to.

Depending on the severity and longevity of your partner’s condition, it might be necessary for you both to consider the possibility of them having to go into a residential care home at some point. This is a decision that will need to be carefully thought through and there is another article on this website dedicated to this issue.

Ultimately, you need to remember that it’s not just your partner’s needs that need to be considered here. You, as the carer, will also be faced with changes and there will be increasing demands on you too. It’s important not to neglect your own health and to seek out professional care services to assist you if necessary. Caring for someone can take its toll on your own health if you take on too much responsibility, so also enlist the support of other family members, if possible, to give you a break.

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