If you find yourself trying to balance caring for an elderly parent while also prioritising your relationship with your partner and perhaps caring for children too, please know that you’re not alone.

It can be incredibly challenging to divide your time, effort and energy between what may feel like an ever-growing mountain of responsibilities and relationships that are vying for your attention.

At times, you may feel that you’re having to choose between your partner and your parent(s) and it can be a real challenge to continue to invest in your relationship in addition to the time commitment of caring for an elderly parent. If you feel pulled in every direction, remember that it’s impossible to do it all and that is completely normal. While you may love your parent and want to support them, keeping a thriving relationship is also an important part of your life. Here are some suggestions that may help.

Managing stress

Stress can impact yourself, your partner and your relationship. Finding ways to manage stress is important and can help both physically and mentally. It may be difficult, but taking time to do activities that you enjoy such as reading, going for a walk, painting or any other relaxing things can be hugely beneficial. When you’re taking on a lot, remember not to neglect your own needs.

Open and honest communication

Having open and honest communication is important for every relationship, but is especially vital when things are challenging. Bottling up emotions such as resentment, frustration or guilt can have a huge impact on your mental health and your relationship. Making space to communicate and for each other to be seen and to be heard can have a powerful effect on a relationship, especially when under pressure.

Setting boundaries

It can feel difficult to draw a line and to set boundaries with an elderly parent, but your relationship will thank you for it. There may be a never-ending list of tasks and responsibilities that could fill your time for weeks on end, or it might be that you are giving of yourself emotionally a great deal. Setting boundaries will not only benefit you and your partner, but your parent too, as they will better understand what you are able to give and where your limits lie.

Keeping organised

Caring for an elderly parent while also trying to balance a range of other responsibilities can be a lot to handle. Trying to remember it all may feel difficult and overwhelming. Coming up with ways to stay organised and finding what works best for you may help you and your partner to feel more on top of things and to know where you all stand. For example, for some people it may be using a calendar or writing lists, whereas for others it may be setting reminders on a phone or having a regular routine of tasks that helps.

Asking for help

If caring for an elderly parent becomes too much, it’s vital to ask for help. This could be in the form of other family members, a local charity that offers befriending or sitting services, at-home carers or residential care. Only you will know what it right for your family and there may be significant decisions that need to be made. You’ve chosen your partner to spend your life with and there may come a point in your relationship when seeking outside support is the best and right thing to do for everyone involved. Asking for help can be difficult and you may feel guilty that you aren’t able to meet all of your parent’s needs. However, it’s so important to look after your own health and wellbeing, and asking for help may play a vital part in that.

No two family situations are the same and only you know what is best for your relationship with your partner. Caring for an elderly parent can bring with it a range of additional strains and pressures for the both of you. But in keeping the lines of communication open, setting clear boundaries, managing stress, remaining organised and asking for help when you need it, there is the potential to see your relationship thrive in this season and not just to survive.

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At Care for the Family we support couples, parents and those who have been bereaved. If you would be able to make a one off donation to support our work, we would be very grateful. Thank you.

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