For many elderly married couples, the phrase “in sickness and in health” rings true every year as one spouse takes care of the other. And although caring for an aging spouse is a labor of love, it can be mentally, physically and emotionally draining. Caregiver stress is common, which can put a strain on a couple’s relationship and place their freedom and independence at risk. Thankfully, as a spousal caregiver there are several proven ways to manage your own health while caring for your partner. 

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Although serving as a caregiver at any age is challenging, the aging process makes it even more difficult. To help prevent caregiver stress watch for these warning signs:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired throughout the day
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Feeling sad
  • Experiencing frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Poor eating habits, not enough sleep and a lack of physical activity can all exacerbate the effects of caregiver stress. Eventually, that pent-up stress can cause serious health problems like heart disease, anxiety, depression and diabetes.

Self-Care Tips for Spousal Caregivers 

Staying refreshed as a spousal caregiver is possible when taking these steps:

Ask your spouse to help

An imbalanced relationship isn’t healthy for either