How to Cope With a Chronically Ill Spouse

Reports show that at least 30% of those caring for a senior family member are 65 years of age or older themselves. Caring for a chronically ill or physically disabled spouse is difficult at any age. Watching someone you love decline is never easy. And because chronic illness brings change to everyone's lives, both spouses need stong support.

Set aside some time each day just for you, and don't feel guilty about it. You are going to need your energy; take some time to de-stress. Whether you read or leave the house for a bit, remain involved in things that you enjoy. This will help you to manage stress more successfully.

When you need a break, ask family and friends for help. Take advantage of support groups available in your community. Join a support group and share your concerns with others in similar situations.

If you have the financial resources, consider hiring an outside caregiver. Respite care is another alternative to consider. This will allow you to get away from the house for a few hours each week, either to catch up on errands or enjoy an activity.

Realize that you cannot do everything. Your sick spouse still may be able to do perform some tasks. Let your spouse know that you have certain expectations. You may have to help make some tasks easier, but it will be rewarding for both of you in the end.

Don't try to cope alone. Distancing yourself from your spouse will not solve the problem. Remember, the two of you still are a team.