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Different Ways Caregiving Changes Your Relationships

Different Ways Caregiving Changes Your Relationships
There are a lot of details to keep track of as a caregiver. Whether it be administering medication on a regular schedule, or going to frequent medical appointments, it can be easy to get lost in these details.

A less frequently discussed issue with assuming the role of a caregiver is that of how such a responsibility can abruptly change your relationships to your loved ones. While there are many different kinds of caregiving relationships, the two most common are between partners or adult children and parents.

Partner as Caregiver

It is common for many older adults to assume the role of caregiver for their significant other. The reasons why are obvious on both a pragmatic and personal level. It is likely that you are already living with your partner, which means that you can always be nearby as a caregiver. It also means that there is already a longstanding emotional connection and rapport that can help your significant other live as comfortably as they can with their particular care needs.

You should not feel bad if you begin to experience a strain on your relationship as a result of your role as a caregiver. These types of problems are normal for this situation, and overwhelming stress can easily turn into misplaced frustration and resentment. Also, the one in need of care may feel that they are becoming too much of a burden to their partner. The complications that this change in the relationship should not be underestimated.

Adult Child as Caregiver

It is also just as common for adult children to assume the role of caregiver for their parent(s). The reasons are also just as obvious. Not only does the adult child have an intimate understanding of their loved one’s needs, but there is also a level of emotional rapport that can only be reached between a parent and their child. However, there are particular difficulties that can arise when the adult child assumes the role of caregiver.

It can be difficult for a parent that has spent their entire lives taking care of their child to then be taken care of in turn. This flip in the relationship dynamic can be difficult for a parent to experience. For the adult child as well, there are sure to be problems with finding a new balance in their relationship with their parent. Whether it is illness or aging, the reality of life can be a jarring experience for an adult child that is seeing their parent needing care.

The transition into a caregiving role requires a new balance of dependence and independence that often causes strain on our primary relationships. It is difficult when a relationship such as a romantic partnership or parenthood becomes redefined in a drastically different way. Particularly when the pangs of aging or illness strike a family, the energy and focus that is initially placed can be draining in a long term care situation.

As always, the best ways to move forward are to acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and communicate openly about this difficult transition. When family members, primary caregivers, and care receivers are all working through problems together, this is the only time that the inevitable issues that will arise can be addressed.

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