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The balance between a partner and a carer

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Caregiving for a loved one is extremely rewarding and ensures your partner gets care from someone who knows them best. 

But becoming a first-time carer for your partner can be very challenging too. In this article,  Samantha Hendy from CLH Healthcare shares expert advice to ABLE2UK for finding the balance between partner and carer. 

Becoming a carer for the first time can be challenging, as you have to learn a lot of new skills quickly while also ensuring the person that you’re caring for feels comfortable and safe. And, when the person you’re caring for is your partner, there are even more complicated emotions as the pressure of maintaining your relationship comes into play. 

If you’re looking for ways to ensure you can give your partner the best care you can, or if you’re struggling to find the balance between lover and carer, below I’ll share a few tips that may help. 

Code-switching 

Learning to code-switch between lover and carer in different contexts can be a steep learning curve. If mismanaged, it can cause friction and stress on top of your caring duties, but fortunately it can be done and many people with disabilities choose their partner as their primary caregiver. The most important element is to remember that your partner is still your partner, and to treat them as such. 

Between appointments, care duties, and other responsibilities, ensure you spend enough time together as a couple, whether that’s going on dates, seeing your friends, or enjoying a shared hobby. Establishing a strict routine for your care duties can help with this. However, as disability (and life in general) isn’t black and white, communication and flexibility is key — you and your partner need to feel comfortable going from one mode to the other as often as needed. 

Setting boundaries 

When you love someone, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to make them comfortable. And, when you’re their primary caregiver, that can mean taking over tasks that they struggle to complete on their own. But encouraging independence within your relationship can help to ensure that your partner’s autonomy is preserved, which may help keep resentment and burnout low for both parties. 

It’s important to communicate with your partner and discuss their boundaries — are there areas they’d like more help with, and is there anything they’d rather do alone? If you’re reluctant to give them more control over an area of their life, then a compromise may be reached through discussion. Remember that you’re entitled to help and advice from a professional if you can’t come up with a solution together.

Avoiding burnout

It’s important to find ways to be empowering and supportive as a carer while also looking after yourself, as neglecting your own self-care can lead to what’s known as carer burnout. As well as damaging your own health, burnout can ultimately affect the quality of care you’re able to give your partner. This is another aspect of partner care where establishing a routine can really help, as giving yourself enough time to rest and pursue your own interests while still being there for your partner will make a world of difference to your wellbeing. 

It can be difficult to hand over the care of your loved one to another but it’s crucial that you do so if they need 24-hour care. Remember to keep track of what care your partner has received from you throughout the day, so you can easily pass this information on to other caregivers and nurses. This will allow you to enjoy your time off without worrying whether they’re getting the care they deserve.

When caring for someone you love, your relationship can suffer if it’s not properly maintained. The tips in this guide can help you navigate between your duties as a partner and a carer, improving your ability to switch between the two modes without suffering from burnout. 

[ Thanks to Nikki Thorpe who compiled this article on behalf of ABLE2UK ]

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