It’s a fact of life: we all get older. The question is, what do you do about it when your spouse ages with you? You may have some questions about how to care for an aging spouse, but don’t worry—we’ve got the answers! Here are our top tips for taking care of your spouse as you age.
1. Think About Having Financial Powers of Attorney in Place
A financial power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint another person as legally allowed to make financial decisions on your behalf, should you lose mental capacity. This can include things like access to bank accounts, signing checks or contracts, and making investment decisions.
These documents are especially important if, like many seniors, you have a spouse with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia who may need help managing their money when they’re no longer physically able to do so on their own.
If this is something that you have not yet discussed or worked out with your spouse, we recommend talking about it sooner rather than later. This way, he or she has ample time to prepare before any life-changing events occur (like opting for assisted living).
2. Give Your Loved One a Sense of Control
As your loved one ages, it’s especially important to help them maintain a sense of control. This can be done through small changes like keeping their schedule as consistent as possible.
If you know they like to read at 4pm every day, try not to mess with that routine. If they have trouble remembering what day it is and when certain things are happening, help them set reminders on their phone or calendar so they don’t forget important appointments or events. When making important decisions, include them in the conversation, and ask for their input, so they can maintain that sense of control.
This will not only help them stay calm, but it can also help them feel loved and needed. Your spouse may not realize that their mental or physical capacity has shifted, so even if they aren’t as capable of doing things on their own, allowing them to feel control over their lives will help them remain calm and gain a sense of independence.
3. Take Time to Still Interact as Spouses
There are times when you may feel like you are losing your partner, but it is important to remember that you still have each other. Your relationship hasn’t changed just because your spouse is aging; it’s just taking a new form. Keeping that in mind can help you keep some of the intimacy from your marriage intact as he or she ages, and you can bith continue to adapt over time.
You should still spend time together doing things that are fun and relaxing, even if they aren’t as active or exciting as they used to be when both partners were younger. It could be something as simple as watching TV together or going out for an evening stroll through the neighborhood park. You can also try visiting a family member, or playing a board game together.
You don’t have to make any big changes in order for these types of activities to work well; just make sure to keep things fun and do them regularly so they become part of your regular routine instead of being an occasional treat every few weeks or months.
4. Take Care of Yourself
It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but you should take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your spouse. If you are not in good physical shape or are suffering from any kind of illness or disease, then it will be difficult for you to provide your loved one with the care that they need when they become older.
Stay healthy, eat a balanced diet and get plenty of sleep. Caring for a loved one requires you to be in good shape, both mentally and physically.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Sometimes, caring for an aging spouse can feel like you’re trying to hold up the world by yourself. It’s tempting to do everything on your own without asking for help. But that’s not sustainable in the long run—and it’s certainly not fair to you.
Do what you can, then ask for help when you need it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this, ask a friend or family member for their time and assistance. You might also consider hiring a professional caregiver who can come in and provide relief so that both of you can take some much-needed breaks from caregiving duties. There are many services available to help with the care of an aging spouse, including home health aides, personal care assistants and nursing services.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start by contacting us at Home Care Assistance. We have caregivers who can help with everything from light housekeeping to providing companionship and support. We also provide respite care services so that you and your spouse can take a much-needed break from the daily stresses of caregiving.
We hope these tips are helpful and have given you a better idea of how to care for your aging spouse. And as always, if you need additional help caring for your aging spouse, Home Care Assistance is here to answer your questions and provide assistance where it’s needed. We can help your loved one age gracefully in the comfort of their own home.
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