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, if not more so, to maintain, and no matter the age, couplehood in particular comes with unique and ever-shifting challenges. While the later stages of life tend 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.
Located on the second and third floors above the Niles Senior Center, Niles Family Services offers individual and group counseling 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.
For information on Senior Social Work services and support, please contact Angelika Danek, Senior Social Work Coordinator at (847) 588-8472.
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):
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. In addition, we also offer the following service:
Niles Helping Elders through Referral and Outreach (HERO) is a community-based system for identifying and helping older adults at-risk physically, emotionally, socially or financially. If you are concerned about a senior who you feel may benefit from social work outreach, you can make a confidential referral by calling and saying, "I want to make a HERO referral." For information, please contact Angelika Danek, Senior Social Work Coordinator at (847) 588-8460.
Join Us for the Discussion Group: Grief, Loss & Change
While this group will support people coping with grief and bereavement, we welcome participants managing other types of loss. This program is open to Niles residents only and meets the third Wednesday of each month from 3-4:30pm. Upcoming meeting dates are Dec 18, Jan 15 and Feb 19. There is no cost to attend the program but registration is required. Please contact Angelika Danek at 847-588-8460 for more information.
Niles Family Services and Niles Community Church are offering a support group for grandparents who are primary caregivers or who co-parent young family members and who want to connect with others like themselves. A new topic is discussed each month. To register or for more information, contact Angelika Danek, or Niles Community Church to register and to request childcare for ages toddler to 9, 847-967-6921. When: The first Wednesday of every month from 10:0 am to 11:30 am. Where: Niles Community Church 7401 W. Oakton, Niles IL 60714.