Caring for an older partner

Hello, first time posting here.

Are there others out there providing support to a much older partner?. I’m struggling with the age gap, 20 years in my case, and there are days when I am resentful and wish for a different life, then I am racked with guilt, and sadness.

Would be good to share with others who might understand.

Thank you.

Hello Jilliekins and welcome.

I care for my 84 year old medically non compliant husband. There is a gap of 23 years so I totally understand where you are coming from. I think it is natural for all carers to feel some resentment at times, but yes, when the age difference is a large one, this can make it feel like one is caring for a parent not partner.

Can you tell us a little more about your circumstances? Are you able to leave your partner for short periods. I have had to literally claw a social life out for myself, although husband frankly does not like me going out alone, and can
be mentally very abusive. I have tried including him but apart from his health issues, he is rather a nightmare socially. I try to go to local places for an hour and half and do have an understanding friend who will meet me at the Community Cafe. I also chair a Book Club and that has really helped. Do you have any support in place? Do you have any local friends or relations who can help out.

We do have a Roll Call . It is well worth joining - just ‘lurk’ until you feel comfortable and then share as much or as little as you wish to. We share the ups and downs of caring. I have found it invaluable the last few years. We can also be a little silly at times! The one thing I would urge is that you do look after yourself and try to find some time for YOU. This is not selfish - just survival tactics!

.

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Hi @Jilliekins and welcome to the Forum. I hope you enjoy having a “mooch around” and see what’s going on. There are always lots of comments and help and support is usually only a ‘post’ away.

My husband is only five years older so I can’t compare my situation with yours, however, I can empathise with the feeling of being resentful and wanting a different life as we have no social life and have lost a lot of friends since his stroke and cascade of other health issues. I have times when I wish I could just go off for a few days or just for a day and do something I want to do without having to think about Graham. I try not to let it show too often but when he says ‘why don’t you take a week away with the dog, I’ll be fine’ I know he would NOT be fine and I would worry every bl**dy day! All I keep saying to myself is ‘you took your vows and over the years you have said they meant more to you than anyone knows - and now is the payback time!’

Resentment is a perfectly natural emotion, so don’t feel guilty about that. Do you get any support? Carers coming in, friends or relatives? Do you manage to get a few hours for YOU during the week?

Have you been in touch with a local Carers Support Service as most have a ‘Sitting Service’ where a volunteer will come round for a couple of hours - maybe weekly - so you can get out to do what YOU want, just for a short break. They can also help with ensuring you know what other help might be available locally. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you advise your and your husband’s GP that YOU are full-time Carer as that flags up on their system that help would be needed if you fall ill and can open the door to vaccinations and other help via the GP.

There are others on here who are in exactly the same ‘boat’ as you and I am sure they will pick up on your post very soon.

You’ll find the “Roll Call” thread is a good place for a chin wag and to get general support or to sound off.

The Carers UK website has a load of helpful sections regarding Carers Health, Benefits, and other help which may be available and is worth checking out.

You are not alone - believe me! I’ve had a heck of a lot of support from “Friends” on this site and we all try to give back as well as receiving support.

See - @helena_2006 beat me to it!! :smile:

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Oh yes I forgot. It is worth checking to see if you have a Carers group locally. I do but cannot get to the meetings. However, I do have a telephone befriender. She is very good and has been a Carer herself. They can often point you to local support. Also make your GP aware that you are a Carer. I did get a Covid jab due to this.

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Hi Helena,
So good to hear your story.
My partner is able to be left for a couple of hours during the day- and I do make use of that most days to exercise, meet a friend, meander etc.
We have carers five mornings a week for an hour to help John shower, and on a Monday night I sing with a choir so have paid support for that.
There is a son and daughter from his previous marriage. She is great, he is less so.
I know compared to many I am in a fortunate position- we have the money to pay for support, and I am not isolated, but John is 90 next year and I will be 70. There could be another 10 years like this, or worse with more decline in health and memory (age related cognitive impairment, not dementia thankfully), or things could change tomorrow- it’s also the uncertainty of everything isn’t it!

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Hi Chris,

Good to hear from you.

John is 90 next year, and I will be 70.
I was 35 when we met, and I guess I should have listened a little closer to the warning bells in my head.
We’ve had happy times, its just sad to see the slow decline - not helped by seeing how my mother and godmother struggled in their 90s and had grim deaths.
John’s not keen on the carer situation, but it gives me an hour a day to get my head in gear, and thankfully he can be left for a couple of hours during the day.
Do you have family support?

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Jilliekins

I am relieved that you do have some support. Yes I get that it is a ‘roller coaster’ at times and I feel I lurch from crisis to crisis as my husband is medically non compliant. He also tends to say he needs to call the GP If he knows in advance I plan to go out. This basically means that I have to cancel/delay plans as he is very deaf and I need to be there to take the GP call and deal with any medication changes. He is a nightmare with his inhaler so the coughing fits can be hard to deal with. He has recently had Hearing Aids but does not seem keen to use them. I am afraid I tell him I am going out at the very last minute now. I do leave a telephone number and my friends at the Book Club and my Social Group have been fantastic telling me they would take me home immediately if he went downhill.

I can only urge you to take all the help you can get and get out as much as you can. I was 28 when I married my husband and he was 51. But if I had my life again, I would not have married him. He really changed when we retired- he had always been very controlling. I find it hard to be sympathetic because he has no friends and does tend to ‘play up’ if he comes with me - including behaving like ‘The Senile Toddler’ at both the Book Club and the Wine Club dinner.

I am sure you too miss the companionship a good marriage brings and caring can be so very isolating and lonely. Please have a look at Roll Call as we do share the ups and downs of caring and it is ok to have a ‘bit of a rant’ and no one will judge!

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Hi Helena,
Not using hearing aids just adds to the difficulties. Luckily John is compliant with wearing them, and taking medication.
My mother warned me about the age gap, I wish I had listened to her!
Have the best Sunday you can.
Jilliekins

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Hi Jilliekens, welcome to the forum. I’m not supporting a much older partner. However my husband is only in his late 50’s and I’m 4 years younger. He has severe mobility issues and numerous medical conditions and his health has rapidly declined in the last 12 months. Everything you’ve said I can totally understand as I’ve felt/feel the same. The guys on here are lovely and you will
find lots of support/comfort from everyone.

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Hi Sue 24
Oh gosh, he is so young to have so many issues.
I managed to be out of the house for a couple of hours today, and feel much better for it.
Friends without caring responsibilities really don’t get it though. How can they?

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Hi Jilliekins, that’s good you managed to get out for a couple of hours and feel a bit better. It is tough and you’re right. I never realised what it was like until we were in this position and have a greater awareness of what carers go through now.

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@Jilliekins ,

No they don’t get; only other carers do.

I’ve learnt since being on the forum that although our caring situations all vary, we all share many of the same challenges.

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Unfortunately, Covid was the excuse Hampshire needed to put all meetings online, on “Teams”. No thought about the helpful interaction with other carers (my son has learning difficulties) in the same boat, I’ve known many for over 40 years and it’s always good to catch up on how everyone is, or isn’t managing. Often, we could sort out problems just by getting together and having a natter. We knew the people involved and the extended family, so there was no need for any introductory “I’m M’s mum and he’s brain damaged but…” In our area there are no allocated social workers any more (against NICE guidelines) so a complete stranger turns up to do an annual review. I asked one on the phone beforehand “have you read the file?”. “No” was the reply, I’ll come the to meeting and read the file afterwards" !!! Having had ten carees in total over 40+ years, I try to share my experiences here to help others, but I had also had incredible amounts of support and been given many possible solutions to my problems too. I’ve learned more from fellow carers than I’ve ever learned from a social worker.

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You are all right that people who have no experience of caring do not really ‘get it’ as in arrangements having to be changed at the last minute. I have to say that the lady I am seeing for an hour today for coffee at the local cafe, is very good as she cared for her mother as well as working a few years ago. My Book Club ladies are very good too - one was a Ward Manager for a Dementia Ward for many years and one of the others cared for her Grandmother. The latter has offered to take us home rather than wait for a taxi if husband is ill. I think sadly as more and more of us sleep walk into caring, it should be easier to find friends that understand or know someone close who has cared or is caring.

Politicians should be made aware of this as WE do have votes.

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Hi Jilliekins

Sorry not to reply sooner. Been a bit of a busy time.

I am very disappointed with a lot of my family. The only ones who care and do anything to help are my nephew and his wife. I have a brother and sister in USA and another brother in Cornwall who has very advanced and aggressive cancer and I don’t know if he will see 2024 but he has made it very clear he doesn’t want anything to do with us - hmm - homophobia lives on!! He’s not been a great ‘family’ person through his life as he’s been too self-centred and all arrangements had to fit in with what he had planned and no flexibility.

My ex-sister-in-law lives locally and used to work for us. She got stroppy with me when we were forced to close our clinic when Graham had his stroke and since then has slowly become more distant. Well that’s fine, I won’t waste energy on her. Her last visit was about a month ago when she dropped off my great-niece as my nephew was here. I asked what she thought of the new car and she replied “humph - its alright for some” and stomped off. As my nephew said when I mentioned it ‘she forgets that Graham gave her a car worth around ten grand a few years ago’ (A car G bought for his Mum before she died)…

My other nephew ignores us completely, which is fine by me.

Apart from that G’s sister is in Australia (or Oz as she is often in a fantasy land as she has MH issues and the other side of the world is the best place for her).

So all in all not a lot of family help. We do have a friend who was a professional carer but has now retired. She Cared for my Mum and is hoping to come visit us for a few days in January. I am hoping to ask her if she might like to come for a break some time and I will see about going off for a week with Buster - but know that G is not on his own. Lorraine wouldn’t be pushy but would know what to do if G was ill or needed help.

Our ‘best friends’ are fine, but Martyn is very opinionated. He’s the one who says ‘what you WANT is’ all the time, instead of ‘have you thought of…’ As the line in the Railway Children goes ‘He means very well’… He sees G at his best but not after he leaves and G wilts from putting on a brave face during the visit. He’s also one who doesn’t understand that a brief visit is far better and easier than a long stay.

Graham’s needs for support are very difficult to define. He is fine most of the time, but needs someone around in case he falls or has a massive energy dip (which is totally unpredictable) or in the event he has a ‘flood disaster’ as he then needs someone to clean up/change bed/check chair/put on the washing etc etc… The mundane problems which arise ‘out of the blue’. Oh and to get food for him as he says he can cope but is dangerous as he tried to carry a hot plate or dish in one hand while wobbling around with a his stick in the other - no way to steady himself if he starts to fall.

As long as I set up his meds for the week he can take those when he needs them so no problem there…

It would be very easy if he just needed someone a couple of times a day, but a lot of the time he can be fine… It’s the unpredictability of his situation that causes the stress. Mind you I know he would react badly to me getting in a carer, just as you say about John

It’s quite a quandary.