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Signs that Spousal Caregiving May Be Becoming Too Risky for You

Spousal caregiving may becoming risky
All caregivers who experience elevated levels of stress are at an increased risk for physical and emotional issues.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

"Will you still need me,
will you still feed me,
when I'm sixty-four."
The Beatles, "When I'm 64"

Times have certainly changed since Lennon and McCartney penned and sang those words in 1967. Medical and healthcare strides are allowing people to live well into their 70's and 80's. Despite those health advances, the fact remains that caring for a spouse in need, regardless of their age, is very demanding, stressful and could threaten your own health.

The Journal of American Medical Association reports that if you are a spousal caregiver between the ages of 66 and 96, and are experiencing ongoing mental or emotional strain as a result of your caregiving duties, there's a 63% increased risk of dying over those people in the same age group who are not caring for a spouse.

As a caregiving spouse, you may begin to feel very isolated from friends and feel tremendous guilt about your own unmet needs. There can also be a sense of loss, especially if your spouse suffers from dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

So how do you know if caregiving is becoming too risky for you? Examine this list and see how many apply to you:

  • Missing or delaying your own doctor appointments
  • Ignoring your own health problems or symptoms
  • Not eating a healthy diet for lack of time
  • Overusing tobacco and alcohol when you feel stressed
  • Giving up exercise habits for lack of time
  • Losing sleep
  • Losing connections with friends for lack of time to socialize
  • Bottling up feelings of anger and frustration and then being surprised by angry, even violent, outbursts directed at your spouse, other family members, co-workers - even strangers
  • Feeling sad, down, depressed or hopeless
  • Loss of energy
  • Lacking interest in things that used to give you (and your spouse) pleasure
  • Feeling resentful toward your spouse
  • Blaming your spouse for the situation
  • Feeling that people ask more of you than they should
  • Feeling like caregiving has affected family relationships in a negative way
  • Feeling annoyed by other family members who don't help out or who criticize your care

All caregivers who experience elevated levels of stress are at an increased risk for physical and emotional issues.

Even if you are only experiencing two or three of these items, it is important to get help and support.

The truth is your spouse/partner will be in better hands if you are healthy.

Last revised: April 11, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. February 22, 2020 at 2:47 am | Posted by Brad Bearnson

    I've been my wife's caretaker for 22 years. She is 42 with progressive MS. she's been in a chair for 15 years of the 22. Her mobility is all but gone. My health is deteriorating as well, I'm on two different types of anti depressants. I am tried.


  2. February 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Posted by Stacey Miller

    I was already over my marriage. I love him and always have but he had always treated me bad. Cheated, name calls, left me for a family member, he's physically and emotionally abusive. I was already looking too leave. Then he had an Aortic Dissection aneurysm and spinal stroke which left him paralyzed. 40 days in hospital was the best days in so long... My children ages 4 and 6 and I home... Able to focus. Breathe, not feel constantly critized .. I have no family help, I'm now left to care for him 24/7 and he acts like I owe him. Says I do nothing, tells others , in a joking way, that I starve him and ignore his needs. I was a stay at home mom, so all the money in our house stopped.... I've been calling day in and day out for resources, posting go fund me, dealing with his family from out of town, still going to hospital every day, filling ssi, atlas . Taking our son to school, homework, housework, and now, trash, the yard, feeding the dogs and their poop.. and if he calls out more than once and I don't hear, I'm a stupid bitch, just call his mom, don't touch him. Refuses meds, temp anything then says, he was in pain and hungry and I wouldn't do anything to help.....I hate him....I feel like I have nothing left. I sometimes have to force myself to properly care for him because as I'm cleaning up his poopy diaper head calling me a stupid bitch and saying everything I do is wrong.. bed sores are my fault. I am financially BADDD LIKE WE GOT SERVED EVICTION I'm trying to raise money. Raise my kids, protect them, take his abuse I don't feel like I can do this. .😞😞 I want to just run away and hide, he's draining me from my kids and myself.... What do I do?? Help I need advise or I fear severe depression on my party


    • February 10, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Posted by Sally O'Malley

      Stacey Miller - what about putting him in a nursing home? If his family disagrees then they can take care of him 24/7. He should have disability, which means he should have Medicare...he could go into a nursing home! You don't deserve to be treated so horribly. He will ruin your health and your kids will suffer, too. You have to figure out how to make a living to take care of your kids, which he is unable to do. Like you said, you were already going to leave him anyway. If you are a "stupid bitch" or do "everything wrong" then let him experience how things are done in a nursing home and see how he likes it then!


  3. January 27, 2020 at 11:42 am | Posted by Val

    I have been reading all the posts. My story is, I take care of my 72 year old husband. He has stage 4 cancers. He has had surgery, chemo and radiation. Now doing immunotherapy. In and out if hospital with a few infection. He us very depressed. Don't want to eat, or go out. I am now finding very hard to cope. Know it isn't going to get better for us, but try to stay positive.


    • March 17, 2020 at 8:01 am | Posted by Kathleen M Bagley

      Put him in a nursing home. When someone shows you no appreciation, that's never going to change whether they are sick or not. Run and I do mean RUN if you want any sanity for yourself and your children. I have been tending to a sick x husband which I should have never gotten back with, and now I am 61 and I suffer on a daily basis. Even my dogs noticed the difference in my home once my x came home from the hospital for the 6th time. Please RUN...….


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