Sunday, January 17, 2010
Caregivers: Do You Tell Your Ill Partner About Your Stress?
Typically, the bulk of the attention goes to the partner who has the health condition.
Doctors, nurses, clinics, & hospitals make appointments with the ill partner. They run tests on the ill partner to assess the status of the condition. At home, care providers - aides, physical therapists, visiting nurses - focus on the ill partner to find out how s/he is doing and to assess what adjustments might need to be made in her/his care.
Family members, colleagues, and friends call to find out how the ill partner is doing. Even empathic pets tend to curl up next to the ill partner.
And even the well partner focuses most of his/her attention on taking care of the comfort and daily living needs of the ill partner.
So - who is paying attention to the well partner, to the caregiving partner?
Often the answer is no one, not really, not in a sustained way. Yet the physical and emotional stress the caregiving partner suffers is huge. And often s/he feels s/he must keep it boxed up, put on a shelf for later; not to be shared with the ill partner for fear of overtaxing him/her.
The caregiver has not only lost the partner s/he knew, along with the dream of a predictable future, but s/he has also lost his/her best friend and confidante.
Caregivers -- to what extent do you share your stress, your burdens, your worries, your reality with your ill partner? If you have, what has been the result, for you and for your ill partner? If you don't share your stress with your ill partner, what do you do with it?