As we age, health can become a serious issue in a relationship. Start by remembering these few basic tips.
1. Don't pretend that nothing has changed
There’s no denying that your new reality is strange at best – and terrifying at worst. So you cannot go on pretending that things are as they have always been. You both need to be realistic about your new situation and make plans accordingly. Give yourself permission to feel anger, sadness, frustration or any other emotion you want.
2. Maintain some balance in the relationship
When one partner is caring for the other, any sense of balance in the relationship can go straight out the window. It is important that the your still maintain some of their role in the relationship. You may not want to burden a sick person with your daily struggles or larger issues (like depression or anxiety) but you still need to be able to talk to them – and they to listen in return. Emotional closeness remains important even when a physical relationship has diminished.
3. Try not to become isolated
It’s too easy to retreat from the world when your partner becomes sick (especially if they are housebound). You don't want to bore others with your constant talk of illness or you feel that you are physically unable to get out and about. Isolation is proven to lead to depression and other health issues, so make a concerted effort to stay connected to the outside world.
4. Don't neglect your own health
When you are constantly dealing with the health issues of your partner, it is very easy to let your own health slide. Genuine problems might not seem so serious when compared to your partner’s illness or you might just be tired of dealing with doctors. You need to preserve your own health, regardless of how your partner is feeling.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for help
You don’t have to face this alone. Help is out there if you are willing to ask. You can reach out to family members or close friends, or look for more professional help from the government or private services. Feeling that you are solely responsible for the health of your partner can be scary and isolating, so do both of you a favour and share the load.
6. Do things for yourself
Make time for you – get outside and go for a walk, attend yoga classes, catch up with friends. Caring for another person is physically and emotionally draining, so you need to take some time out for yourself and do things that you enjoy. Don't feel guilty that your partner cannot join you. You are still an important person who deserves to be happy.
Any advice contained in this communication is general advice only. None of the information provided is, or should be considered to be, personal financial advice.