Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to Support a Caregiving Spouse: Three Tips from My Other Caregiving Half by carolodell

I am very pleased to share this post by Carol O'Dell.  Author of Mothering Mother and More, be sure to check out her blog site at the link below!

How to Support a Caregiving Spouse: Three Tips from My Other Caregiving Half
January 18, 2010 by caroldodell

Maybe you’re not the one doing the day-to-day caregiving–maybe you’re the spouse, partner, the one who would get “best supporting” if there were an Oscar or some other shiny statue given for “Best Caregiving Award.”

Being the sidekick behind or rather beside the caregiver is a VERY important and crucial role. I know because I’m not sure I could have done what I did–care for my mom who had Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease and lived with us–if it hadn’t been for my other caregiving half.

My husband, (my caregiving spouse) had a lot to contend with. He put up with my moods–my many, many spontaneous, combustible moods. He put up with some doozy mother-daughter fights–fights between my mother and me and fights between my daughters and me. (I’m beginning to realize I was at the hub of all the fights!)

He went with the flow, would order pizza if I was too frazzled to cook (the man can’t cook), would run our daughters to wherever they needed to go–or stay with my mom so I could. He did without vacations, built my mom’s apartment onto our house, picked up my mom when she fell, and seemed to do it with a good attitude instead of a “I’m not getting attention” whine that wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere anyway. I had my hands full and he knew it.

So I decided for this blog to turn to ask my husband, Phillip, if he had a friend who said, “My wife’s mom is moving in and needs caregiving–how do I support her?” What would he say?

How to Support a Caregiving Spouse: (by a caregiving spouse)

Listen–a lot: If she needs to cry, hold her. If she needs to complain, give her the time and space to vent. Call her throughout the day. Turn off the television when she’s (I’m using the pronoun “she” but it goes either way) talking.

Lighten her load any way you can: Pick up extra chores. Pitch in. Get the kids to help, too. Look for things that need doing–don’t wait to be told.

Pay attention to your spouse’s needs: It’s your job to take care of her so she can take care of others. Notice if she’s tired and make her hot tea. Rub her feet, wash her hair, offer to mom-sit, do the little things only you can do. Consider it family care–not just something your spouse does.

Wow. It didn’t take him but three seconds to come up with that–because he lived it. He was right beside me all the way. I can honestly say that he was my backbone when I didn’t feel I had one. He wrapped me in his arms day after day after day. He did without sex, sleep, decent meals and even a pleasant wife–many times over. He never complained. He seemed to know what I need and he wouldn’t let me give up even when I wanted to–because he knew deep down, I didn’t want to. He was there when my mom died, and he was there in those dark and lost days after.

Caregiving is hard on a marriage/relationship at times, but it also brings out the best in us. We see what we’re made of–and in the end, we look back at our lives and remember all we’ve been through side-by-side.

Caregiving is one of our journeys. One of many.

At the bottom of this page there is a youtube video of Carol doing some seriously funny caregiving humor, don't miss it!


  1. I can't beleive how much or moms have in common.thanks for the comment on my post.
    And I do know that sinch I started caring for mom I can live on a little over $1000.00 a month . Which before when I was working full time and had money coming in every week I could not budget anything. I have learned that I don't have to go somewhere everyday or even every week.I can live without movies, eating out and shopping . I have also learned my son is such a wonderful person. Putting up with me and my moods . He is strong , caring and going to be one heck of a man. I should say he already is. This is a great post.

  2. Our moms are much alike, dementia and Alzheimers are no respector of persons and their insidious character traits are the same in most individuals. I am appreciative of being able to post this article by Carol O'Dell, it will benefit many caregivers and their spouses!