The changing relationship
Changes are natural
Caregiving naturally affects your relationship with the person you care for. You interact in new ways. You see each other differently, and you experience unfamiliar, sometimes funny or even delightful feelings. Approach the changes positively, with an open mind, and you might be surprised. Your relationship could become stronger and more fulfilling. Read about the two most common types of relationship, below, and pick up helpful tips on coping with the changes you’re likely to experience.
Are you and the person you care for partners in a relationship? If so, you probably live together and have a strong emotional bond. That’s good – it can help make caregiving easier and less stressful. Since you know each other very well, you’re likely to be uninhibited with each other – that’s also helpful. Please be careful though. Close relationships can cause strong emotions. If your relationship becomes too one-sided and this bothers you, talk about it with your partner. Try to find space for your own needs. If you show love towards your partner, you can find caregiving very rewarding.
Like many people, you may find yourself needing to look after an aged parent on a regular basis. Think of it as a wonderful opportunity to show your mother or father how much you love them. Each of you might find the reversal of your roles hard to accept. It can feel unnatural, troublesome or even embarrassing. Be prepared for awkwardness when your parent needs help getting washed or dressed. You can overcome these challenges by taking a positive attitude. With time you’ll get used to the situation. You’ll discover that your fear was bigger than the task. After all, you just want to give your parent the best love and care.
Each of us is unique, and so is each of our caregiving situations. There is one rule, though, that applies to all caregiving relationships: if you experience negative emotions, discuss them. Sometimes it’s enough to talk things over and find solutions with the person you’re caring for. At other times, it’s better to ask your friends, other caregivers or a specialist for help.