Acting as a caregiver for a loved one is an act of service, selflessness, and love. This is especially true for caregivers of spouses. While all partners take steps to take care of each other, whether they put warm meals on the table or help with laundry, being a caregiver is so much more.
A caregiver of a spouse assists in new ways, from helping their partner get dressed in the morning to helping them eat their food and beyond. This is no simple role, and it’s one that can lead to new challenges in a marriage or long-term relationship.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Unique Impacts of Being a Caregiver for a Spouse
- Online Support Groups or Forums for Caregivers of Spouses
- In-Person Support Groups for Caregivers of Spouses
Though caregivers love and admire their spouse for his or her bravery, they might also struggle to recognize their role within the relationship. They might have difficulty asking for help or receiving support. Luckily, there are a number of caregiver support groups designed specifically with caregivers of spouses in mind.
Unique Impacts of Being a Caregiver for a Spouse
Anyone who takes care of others is at risk of caregiver burnout, but those who take care of their spouse are in a particularly challenging position.
Firstly, these individuals likely take the longest of all family caregivers to self-identify in their new role. Caregiving is a natural part of any marriage or relationship, so recognizing that being a caregiver in this capacity requires additional support and resources isn’t always easy.
According to the Well Spouse Association of spousal caregivers, some of the unique challenges these caregivers face are:
- Less support: Those facing an illness or disease usually have a lot of support from organizations catering to these situations. These organizations aren’t usually qualified to assist with caregiver issues, leaving spouses in the dark.
- General family support: Another important realization is that most existing caregiver support is designed for family members who aren’t necessarily spouses. This doesn’t take into consideration the unique experiences these spouses face.
- Intimacy: Last but not least, the loss of physical or emotional intimacy between partners can lead to deep emotional upset, also known as “rolling grief.”
What’s the best way to combat these challenges? Aside from caregiver resources, spouses in a caregiving role can benefit from peer support. Recognizing that they’re not alone in their experiences makes a world of difference.
Luckily, in this day and age, it’s never been easier to find support. From online caregiver groups to in-person meetings, there’s something for everyone.
Online Support Groups or Forums for Caregivers of Spouses
Meeting with fellow spousal caregivers online is a great first step into peer support. Because this can be an isolating experience, caregivers of spouses might not be able to find anyone in their local community who can relate.
An online support group or forum fills these gaps to provide necessary companionship and understanding.
1. Cancer Care
For those who have partners undergoing treatment for cancer, there are cancer-specific support groups for spouses. Cancer Care offers free, 15-week online support groups for those caring for a spouse or partner with cancer.
The groups are led by an oncology social worker to ensure it’s suited to these caregivers’ specific experiences. These groups begin every month, and it’s free to register.
2. Caregivers Connect
There are also a number of support groups on Facebook, one of the most popular being Caregivers Connect. Caregivers Connect is a community that was created to give a voice to family caregivers, specifically those caring for a parent or spouse.
It’s free to join, and the group is private and secure. With over 5,000 active members, this is a safe place to share your thoughts and feelings with a group of caregivers who understand.
3. Dementia Caregivers Support Group
Another popular Facebook group is the Dementia Caregivers Support Group. This is for all family members who are caring for a loved one with Dementia. While this isn’t specific to spouses, many spouses make up the 15,000 members and recognize just how challenging this position can be.
This group is designed to stimulate conversations about personal feelings and experiences. Knowing you’re in the company of those who understand what you’re going through is a form of healing in itself.
4. Caregiver Stress Relief
All caregivers know how stressful it is to put someone else before yourself. Caregiver Stress Relief is an online community that focuses on self-care for caregivers. Users are encouraged to ask questions and seek support through the Facebook page and website.
5. Caregiver Support
Reddit is home to a lot of different groups and communities, many of which are around caregiving. Caregiving Support is specifically focused on the challenges of taking care of a loved one. With over 5,000 members since 2013, this is a safe space to share concerns and questions.
While this group is open to all kinds of caregivers, it’s geared towards loved ones. There are many existing discussions about spousal caregiving, but they’re always open to more conversations.
6. Caregiver Online
The Family Caregiver Alliance partnered with Smart Patients Caregiver Community to provide Caregiver Online. This is an online support group for both families and partners of adults with disorders like stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic health conditions.
These online communities are a safe, open space for discussing the stress, challenges, and rewards of being a caregiver. These boards are unmoderated and completely run by caregivers.
In-Person Support Groups for Caregivers of Spouses
There are also a number of in-person support groups for spousal caregivers. While you might need to do some searching to find a local option near you, connecting in-person shows you that you don’t walk this path alone.
7. Well Spouse Association
The Well Spouse Association is dedicated to helping the “well” spouse in caregiving relationships. They host in-person events and annual conferences to allow those who “get it” to come together.
Their annual conference is held each year in October, but they also offer monthly events on a local level. Each event features speakers, leaders, and self-care resources for those who need it most.
8. National Family Caregiving Alliance
The National Family Caregiving Alliance has a number of in-person support groups available for all types of caregivers. They’re open to anyone who is caring for a loved one, including spouses. Though these are currently on hold until after 2020, you can explore local options near you.
9. Cancer Support Community
If your partner is experiencing cancer, the Cancer Support Community has over 175 partner locations worldwide. These specialize in a variety of in-person support groups and resources for caregivers of all shapes and sizes.
If you’ve been impacted by cancer in any way, you’re welcome to join a professionally-led program designed with you in mind. These are created for all different age groups and life situations, including spouses. You can search for locations near you on their website.
10. Churches and hospitals
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local churches and hospitals. Churches are often the meeting place for local support groups, and you might be surprised just what’s available.
In addition, hospitals have the resources to partner you with the best support programs for your specific needs. They have access to caregiver support groups and in-person meetings, so this is a great first place to ask.
Get the Help and Support You Need
Whether you’re reaching out for yourself or for a loved one, feel empowered to get the right help. Being a caregiver is a complex role. It’s even more of a challenge when you’re the caregiver for a partner or spouse.
Spousal caregivers face unique obstacles, but these aren’t something they have to handle alone. Countless others are walking in their footsteps. When they come together to offer support, the weight becomes a bit easier to carry. These groups above are designed with these needs in mind.
- Anderson, Richard. “For Relatives or Friends of Spousal Caregivers.” Well Spouse Association: Support for Spousal Caregivers. WellSpouse.org.