“Tough Love: Succeeding as a spousal caregiver”

Dorothy, whose husband had Lewy Body Dementia and is part of our local support group, forwarded this article on caregiving for a spouse from the current issue of Neurology Now.

Steven Russell, Brain Support Network’s treasurer, read over the article and provides a summary of the key points.

Although the title includes “spousal caregiver,” I think much of it applies to those who aren’t married as well as to those who are providing care and support as an adult child, friend, etc.  Although not focused on caregiving for someone with an atypical parkinsonism disorder, the article makes excellent points for anyone caring for someone with a chronic disease.

Here are some key points:

#1 Men and women have very different reactions as patients and caregivers and this can lead to big changes in relationships:

“Men are more likely to leave the marriage if they become a caregiver because they feel there is little they can get back from the relationship…  [Women] were six times more likely to be separated or divorced after a diagnosis than men in the same situation.”

#2 Get help early and continuously add to your care team:

“Many people will say that they will do as much as they can until they can’t anymore, and that’s not good for anyone.”

#3 Roles will change, whatever the relationship at time of diagnosis.  Figure out what needs to be done and have resources available:

“Both spouses need to come to terms with the change, accept it, and get help if the change is too much to handle.”

The author provides these tips for the caregiver navigating challenges:
* Prepare for change
* Reassess roles
* Resist taking on everything
* Avoid isolation
* Cultivate healthy communication
* Be open to intimacy
* Guard against depression
* Ask for help
* Carve out “me” time

Check out the article for details on each of these tips:


Tough Love: Succeeding as a spousal caregiver means knowing when to ask for help, finding time for yourself, and making peace with your partner
Neurology Now
by Paul Wynn
August/September 2016, Vol. 12, Issue 4

Neurology Now magazine is available by free subscription.  Click on the “Subscribe Now” link at the bottom of the article on caregiving.  You have to verify each year that you still want the magazine.