6 Considerations Men Should Know When Caregiving for a Spouse

Caregiving for a spouse can be undoubtedly challenging, frightening, and lonely. Research shows that spouses consist of 12% of all caregivers, but their role tends to have some of the highest stress rates.

If you are a male caregiver, it’s important to balance taking care of your partner while also taking care of yourself. Here are some essential considerations to keep in mind.

You’re Not Alone

There is a longstanding cliche that women primarily fall into caregiving roles. But research shows that 40% of all caregivers are adult men, and the average male caregiver age is 47.8 years old. When it comes to spousal caregiving, the average male is 62.5 years old.

It can be helpful to remember these numbers if you’re feeling alone or disconnected from the outside world. There are numerous options for camaraderie. Whether it’s through support groups, your faith or religion, or talking to a therapist, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you’re not the only person experiencing this stress.

You Might Be Lacking in Support

Women often rely on their social relationships for connection and validation. Men, on the other hand, might struggle to reach out when they need help. Instead, they might assume they need to handle everything themselves.

This is a societal phenomenon, and it can start at an early age. For instance, even as a young boy, you may have received strong messages about being tough and strong. Unfortunately, it can be hard to unpack those beliefs later in life.

But support is a crucial element when it comes to caregiving and avoiding burnout. You need to have safe and nonjudgmental outlets to manage stress and feel assured in the work you provide.

You May Be More Stressed About Money

If you manage the household finances, you might be more concerned about money once caregiving for your spouse. Often, this fear comes down to worrying about paying for treatments, money running out, or having enough for yourself should your spouse pass away.

If you suddenly need to quit working, the fear may be amplified. Similarly, many spouses are unpaid in their caregiving roles (although there are solutions for receiving compensation).

Regardless of your specific financial situation, these anxieties are both valid and legitimate. However, if untamed, it can become consuming. Consulting with a qualified financial planner may help ease some of your fears and help you stay on track in maintaining a sustainable budget.

You Need to Look After Your Well-Being

Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of your own physical and emotional needs when caring for someone else. However, neglecting yourself tends to have serious consequences. For example, you might be more prone to stress, resentment, or burnout.

Looking after yourself means regularly practicing self-care and good stress management. Make sure you are eating properly and getting movement each day. Try to prioritize time for your own hobbies and interests.

Of course, your spouse might be your top priority. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make yourself a priority. You’ll be a better caregiver if you keep yourself healthy and well-rounded.

You May Be Depressed

Sometimes, depression can worsen with age, and certain life stressors can certainly exacerbate preexisting symptoms. Unfortunately, men are less likely to seek help or treatment when they are struggling. Therefore, you may be clinically depressed without realizing it.

Depression can look different for everyone, but some common signs include:

  • ongoing feelings of worthlessness.
  • heightened irritability or rage.
  • apathy and disinterest in usual hobbies.
  • poor concentration.
  • lack of energy/fatigue.
  • appetite changes.
  • sleep problems or disturbances.
  • recurrent suicidal thoughts.

If you struggle with one or more of these symptoms, it’s worth meeting with a healthcare professional. Depression is treatable, but it’s important to get the right care.

You May Have Mixed Feelings About Your Spouse

As challenging as it may be, you might feel conflicting emotions about your spouse, marriage, or new role. These feelings are reasonable, even if they feel scary.

Most people don’t enter a relationship envisioning the toll of caregiving. It can be hard to see your spouse changing or struggling or even deteriorating. At times, it may feel utterly discouraging. You may resent some of the time or money you need to spend taking care of them.

Again, these feelings are normal. It’s important to honor them and seek support if you are struggling. It isn’t helpful to shame yourself for your experiences. Relationships can be complicated, and it’s okay to oscillate between different feelings.

Final Thoughts

Caregiving for a spouse can be arduous. However, you don’t have to navigate this process alone. By taking care of yourself and proactively seeking support, you’re more likely to feel refreshed and engaged in your role.

If you are struggling, therapy can help. Together, we can process your complex emotions and discuss beneficial solutions for managing your stress. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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