Real Differences Between Care From a Spouse and a Professional Caregiver

At some point in life, most of us will start to experience decline with aging. If your spouse experiences mental or physical decline first, you’ll have to decide between caring for them personally and hiring a professional caregiver. Your choice will depend on whether you’re able to provide the care they need without sacrificing yourself. If you can’t care for yourself and them adequately, it’s best to let a professional caregiver take over.

Care From a Spouse

You may be able to care for your partner when they experience physical and/or mental decline, and they may also do the same for you. Doing the care yourself can be appealing for financial reasons, or to skip the process of interviewing and hiring a caregiver. Maybe you’d rather not invite another person into your home. There are many possible reasons to choose caring for a spouse.

But it doesn’t come without stress. It may also feel like a necessity or an obligation.

Having to care for your aging spouse can sometimes cause strain in your relationship. You might also experience insufficient energy or sleep, and you may find it isolating or stressful. These effects are common among people providing care for their aging partners, and are known as “burnout”.

Some of the most common symptoms of burnout include:

A Professional Caregiver

A professional caregiver can be a person trained to care for seniors at home. They often have nursing experience or other specialized skills that make them a great fit for the job.

One of the main differences between care from a spouse and a professional caregiver is that a professional is trained in specific areas of importance. They’ll know how to move, wash, feed your husband or wife in the safest, most effective ways. They’ll often have CPR and first aid certifications, and they work for an hourly fee.

Another benefit of professional caregivers is that they clock out and go home to recharge. You can’t just disappear for 16 hours a day to give your attention to other things. Your professional caregiver does, which means they’re better able to focus and keep perspective about day-to-day challenges. Being able to step away is very helpful for caretakers, emotionally.

This is unlike when you’re the one taking care of your partner. Besides being untrained, and always “on”, you’re also working for free.

When to Go To a Professional Caregiver

If you aren’t up to the task of taking care of your spouse alone, don’t do it. Whether it’s the emotional strain, physical demands, or mismatched skillset that deter you, it’s best to employ someone in this case.

Even if you started out fine with caretaking, when you realize that burnout may be affecting you, take it seriously. Cut back how much care you provide alone or hire help until you feel like returning to caretaking full time. If you ever do.

It’s okay to employ a professional, it has no bearing on your love or dedication.

A professional caregiver can help with many things:

  • Preparing meals
  • Light housekeeping (tidying up, dishes, vacuuming)
  • Grocery shopping
  • Hygiene and bathing
  • Incontinence care
  • Transportation to and from various doctors’ appointments
  • Changing bed linens
  • Medication reminders
  • Mobility assistance

Whether to do caretaking wholley alone, employ part time help, or use the services of a full time caretaker is up to you. You can change your mind at any time, just keep in mind your partner’s health and happiness, and also your own.


Originally published at https://healthaiminc.com on April 6, 2019.

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