When Relationships Go Through Hard Times -
Relationships are fluid by nature. Feelings are complex, and even the most insignificant gesture can by perceived as a social cue that can radically change our feelings about another person. Relationships in later life are just as difficult. While this stage of life tends to bring the most happiness within long-term relationships, declining health can reverse that trend. One of the greatest stressors within any long-term relationship is caring for a severely ill partner. Caregiving has two inherent components, caring for and caring about another person. Caring for any sick individual can be mentally and emotionally taxing, but considering the history surrounding one’s partner or spouse -the many years spent tangled emotionally with that person- the “caring about” element may elevate the stress of caretaking for a partner to an extreme. A caretaker witnessing the suffering or decline of one with whom they feel so profoundly aligned tends to bear a uniquely heavy emotional weight.
Other stressors may also arise while caring for a severely ill partner, such as having to spend time away from work, grandchildren, or other responsibilities, as well as the potential toll on one’s health. The impact of these stressors is rooted in the attention and time invested in the ill partner, which may leave insufficient time or resources for the caretaker to tend to his or her own needs. Often, despite the psychological toll imposed by the circumstances, the emotional bond between caretaker and partner will strengthen through the experience. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, negative feelings such as resentment or depression may emerge, which may interfere with otherwise deep and loving relationships between caregiver and care recipient. If the partner receiving care is terminally ill, the caregiver must manage all of this in addition to the anticipatory grief that comes with knowing that they will soon be without their beloved partner.
Niles Family Services offers services to assist individuals who may be experiencing emotional challenges related to caring for a loved one. If you or someone you know may be interested in these services, please contact our Family Services senior social work department at 847-588-8460.
Senior Social Services
In addition to counseling and case management services, our Senior Social Work Department offers the following support groups (there is no cost to attend groups but registration is required, please call 847-588-8460):In addition to counseling and case management services, our Senior Social Work Department offers the following support groups (there is no cost to attend groups but registration is required, please call 847-588-8460):
This monthly group offers support to family and friends caring for loved ones. The group is a source of emotional help and practical guidance that provides an opportunity to relieve stress and interact with other caregivers.
A support group that is available for senior parents coping with the demands of caring for medically, emotionally or financially dependent adult children.