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Old 01.12.2012, 23:22
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Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

Hello everyone.

I'm a US citizen and am in a registered partnership with my Swiss partner here in Switzerland. I have a B permit, resident (?). My spouse is retired and we are living on his pension. He has a lot of health problems that makes his daily living very difficult. He has problems with his spine, and has difficulty walking distances of over 50m. I care for him a lot, and am the one who does most everything in the household.

These are the things I do:

I drive him everywhere.
I carry the groceries.
I pick up his medication from the doctor.
I help him organize his medication.
I help him shower.
I help him walk up and down stairs.
I help him put his clothes on.
I tie his shoes.
I help him fix problems with his computer.
I clean the apartment.
---vacuum the floor
---mop the floor
---clean the toilets
I tend to the garden in the balcony.
I prepare the food 3 times a day.
I take out the garbage.
I apply his balms and gels on him before he goes to sleep.
I cut his hair.
I trim his fingernails.

Whenever he has to stay at the hospital for a health issue:

I stay in the room with him 24hrs a day.
I cut his food.
I help him shower and get dressed.
I wipe him when he uses the toilet.
I clean up the mess in the room.
I take him outside for a walk whenever he needs exercise.

He also has some mental/emotional health issues and has to regularly see a psychiatrist.

I care for him deeply, but all this work is very stressful for me. I'm still quite healthy and able bodied for my age, and I want to get a job so we can get some extra earnings to spend instead of just relying on his pension. However getting a job means that I must stop caring for him, and this is something I have difficulty accepting. This is my dilemma.

I heard-tell from a friend of mine that it's possible for me to get paid to actually take care of him, and this friend of mine is currently doing work in Asia and is out of contact until April.

My questions:

Is it really possible to get paid to care for my spouse?
Should I feel bad for even thinking about it?


Forgive me in advance if I don't divulge any more personal information other than what I have already said.

Sincerely,

L

Mod edit: The OP has a regular account on EF and wishes to use this account solely for this thread.

Last edited by jrspet; 01.12.2012 at 23:34.
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  #2  
Old 01.12.2012, 23:28
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

http://www.ch.ch/private/00029/00041...x.html?lang=en

http://www.pro-senectute.ch/

Retirement Home in ZH with international people?

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Old 01.12.2012, 23:30
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You should not feel bad. You are doing things that are beyond reasonable....out of love. But still, you need space for you too, or you stop being Wife and become nurse.

When he is in hospital, let the nurses do their work...it is not your job to be there 24/7, clean up etc. your job is to bring him your company and news of the outside to keep him connected to the world outside the hospital.

At home, if he can't care for himself (you mention trimming nails), then talk with his doctor and see if a spitex prescription can be given, so you get some help.

Please take my comments in a supportive spirit....I have a husband who also spends time in hospital and I'll at home. I've had to learn to step back and let the care professionals do their bit...or I'd have burned out long ago.

Take care, HH
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Old 01.12.2012, 23:41
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

I'm really sorry for your pain.
It's quite rare for the loving caretaker of a sick and elderly person to even be considered. Yet, it's a well-known fact that the family members can become quite depressed and ill themselves from the immense stress.

I would really encourage you to find a part-time employment if you can, not only for the income but also to allievate the burden and the emotions one can feel in this kind of situation.

There's nothing to feel bad about.
Eventhough you love him, you also have to survive.

Do take care.
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Old 01.12.2012, 23:46
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

It is possible to get money for caring for your spouse, but if it's avsilable, gt s professional carer and get out of the house for a bit each day and accomplish something for you. You deserve a life too, look after yourself.
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Old 02.12.2012, 00:12
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

A friend of mine is in a similar situation. He asked the insurance what they would pay him. It was literally peanuts. However, Switzerland has Spitex, a home caring service, where people come into your home a few hours a day and take care of the patient. With doctor approval, insurance will cover this.

Wishing you the best..
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Old 02.12.2012, 01:32
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

Klaussian, I truly empathize - caregiving is physically exhausting and emotionaly draining, even when it is a freely-given labor of love.

In addition to the Spitex services already mentioned, you might consider getting in touch with Pro Senectute. Among the services this group offers are Angehörigegruppen, care-giver/family support groups. A list of such groups can be found here, click on Gesprächsgruppen:

http://zh.pro-senectute.ch/de/unsera...erigengruppen/

'Who cares for the carers?' is a topic that ought to be discussed more often - a support group is often a good place to find practical advise, organizational help, support through shared experiences - and willing listeners when you need to vent once in a while. Many of the groups focus on carers of Alzheimer's patients, but several are built around more general caregiver concerns.

I can only reiterate what others have already said: in order to care for your husband you must also care for yourself. Please do whatever is necessary to give yourself a respite once in a while - for your sake and your husband's.

Wishing you both all the very best.
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Old 02.12.2012, 09:41
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

My mum does the same for my dad who had a stroke a few years ago. I think when you really love the person you live with, you tend to do more than what you think you can.
It's very demanding as a job as it is a 24h non stop one. It's great if you can get paid for it.
I think you should still take some time for yourself, you need it and deserve it to keep you and your relationship sane. I am sure that if you make sure he is fine, has everything he needs around him for a couple of hours, or even just 1h, go out and do something for you that will make you happy, whatever it is but do it. At your return, you will have something to tell him, it will bring some joy to both of you.
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Old 02.12.2012, 12:49
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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My questions:

Is it really possible to get paid to care for my spouse?
Should I feel bad for even thinking about it?
No, you definitely should not feel bad for thinking about it. Your feelings are real and you shouldn't feel bad or guilty or anything. You need to take care of yourself, too.

I hope things work out for you and improve soon, and you get the support you need. God bless.
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Old 02.12.2012, 14:46
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

I hope you have someone who can take over for a few hours every week and give you some alone time and time to do the things you like to do, because your partner cannot do them with you.
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Old 02.12.2012, 14:52
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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I hope you have someone who can take over for a few hours every week and give you some alone time and time to do the things you like to do, because your partner cannot do them with you.
First of all, hats off to you and what you do. mishi certainly has a point, maybe you should have somebody help out once a week where you can relax or get away for a little while. I do hope you find a possibility to get some money for the great job you're doing.
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Old 02.12.2012, 16:09
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

Thank you all for your kind words. I will take them into serious consideration, and will do some more research on the links provided. You have all be very helpful.
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Old 02.12.2012, 22:05
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

definitely see what spitex can offer. I met one of their representatives who was giving out information brochures at a community even in our local area, and I remembering being quite impressed at how much they could offer, and how people just weren't aware of what was available, and covered under health insurance.

You might also be able to ask his doctor - do you see the same general doctor ? Then you could book an appointment with the doctor, perhaps by yourself, and talk to the doctor about how much you are doing to care for him, and ask the doctor about getting help.

The key is to ask. It might take a little time to do the research and pursue the options, but get the ball rolling now. I watched my grandma go through this process with my grandpa, who had alzheimers, and she was in her late 70's caring 120% for my grandpa, and it was a really long time before she finally was ready to ask for help and accept that things were only going to get worse, and it was time to let others into her home.

Two of the carers that helped look after my grandpa are now considered 'part of the family' - they take her out socially a couple of times a year, and they are people who will call her just to check out how she is doing...and grandpa died 13 years ago!

To be honest, what stuck out the most to me is the idea that when he goes to hospital you sit with him 24 hours a day...even in a place where others are there to do the personal care things...you are doing those things for him...are you doing that willingly or under pressure from him ? Is your husband supportive of the idea of you getting a job ? Have you made longer-term plans together if his condition is deteriorating ?

I know these things are so hard..and that being a carer often causes a lot of social isolation because you just don't have the time to be out having friendships with other people or doing social things... but you are definitely not alone, and there are many others in similar situations who are having the same sort of challenges as you are.

When I was doing my university studies in Australia, I visited this organisation:
http://www.carersnsw.asn.au/

They have a good website and quite a lot of resources for carers. of course, the systems are not the same, but if you have a look in the section 'advice for carers' there's some really great advice about the benefits of working, aids and equipment to make life easier, planning ahead, looking after yourself, taking time for yourself, talking things over...

At the very least, I hope it gives you the feeling that you are not alone, and that the issues that you face are challenges which others have also faced and sought solutions for...
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Old 02.12.2012, 23:39
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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To be honest, what stuck out the most to me is the idea that when he goes to hospital you sit with him 24 hours a day... even in a place where others are there to do the personal care things...you are doing those things for him... are you doing that willingly or under pressure from him?
He says he needs me to be there with him, and that he has strength whenever I am around. So I stay with him.
We actually had a Spitex lady come in about once a week to clean up the apartment, but since we can no longer afford her services I'm now the one who cleans up.

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Is your husband supportive of the idea of you getting a job?
Have you made longer-term plans together if his condition is deteriorating?
Yes, and he says once I get a job I can pay for my own insurance instead of him. He has spoken with the local Church official and have offered for me to work during a once-a-month event called Mittagstisch for elderly people. I cook several dishes such as Apfel-Blechkuche, Wahe, Pizza, and Bruschetta. I got paid about 40sfr for this. Then I use this money to buy our food, because we're sometimes a bit short. At this point I have not made any real long-term plans, because I'm really tied up at the moment.

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I know these things are so hard..and that being a carer often causes a lot of social isolation because you just don't have the time to be out having friendships with other people or doing social things...
Yes, it's difficult for me to go out and talk to my friends or make new ones, because he gets really upset if I tell him I want to go out for a bit. He says I'm going to find another man and leave him, bit of a jealous type. It hurts his feelings a lot when I go out, so I try not to go out so much. And I can't really go out that much, because of money issues we're having.
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Old 02.12.2012, 23:53
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

I am sure that you are in a very difficult situation and I empathize.

I don't want to sound callous or anything, but maybe you are going to have to get a little tougher also. It sounds like your partner is using emotional blackmail to keep you tied to the house. You probably also need a break from time to time and if you want to go out for a while you should do so. Stand your ground. If you don't you will probably come to resent your partner and/or end up in a bad place mentally.
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Old 02.12.2012, 23:58
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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I'm a US citizen and am in a registered partnership with my Swiss partner here in Switzerland.
Does your partner not have any family or friends in Switzerland, so you could get a bit of a break? It sounds like you could use one.
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Old 03.12.2012, 00:07
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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You probably also need a break from time to time and if you want to go out for a while you should do so. Stand your ground.
I do manage to get out of the apartment when I get groceries by myself. I sometimes intentionally not buy something we actually need when we're doing groceries. Then when we get home, I'll tell him I forgot to something, then I get to go out grocery shopping by myself. I know it's a bit sneaky, but it works.

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Does your partner not have any family or friends in Switzerland, so you could get a bit of a break? It sounds like you could use one.
Yes he does. However, he says he doesn't get along with them very well. His mom is still alive and tried to kill him when he was young. He says his family doesn't accept him because he's a homosexual. He says his two sisters tell him all the time that he should just go die. One of his sisters went to visit us one time, and we got to chat for a bit. She seemed nice though, but it could have just been a front.
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Old 03.12.2012, 00:36
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

I think you are a bit brainwashed at the moment. As the other posters said, you need to be a bit tough with your partner. Leaving him alone for a bit wont kill him. He complains? Well too bad. You have a life of your own to live and at the moment its not happening
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Old 03.12.2012, 07:23
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

From what you have described, it sounds like you could be in an emotionally abusive relationship, and possibly also a financially abusive relationship. Whilst he may be 'dependent' on you, he's also making you financially 'dependent' on him (and his pension)...and that limits your life choices and your sense of independence and self-worth.

Although it's a homosexual relationship, I would assume that most of your experiences are common with a 'marriage' relationship, and that information such as the following link applies to some extend in your situation, and you can have a think about it...

http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/a...onal_abuse.htm

Setting limits should be possible. Love, trust and respect are the foundations of a positive relationship. Are those present in your relationship ? If you cannot afford even basic spitex and 40chf seems like a lot of money in your food budget, then your finances must be extremely tight, or someone else is holding the purse-strings. Do you share the money equally and plan your finances or does he also control the decision making about where and when your money is spent ? are you spending 100% of the money each month, with mutual agreement, or is he holding on to a nest egg which you cannot access - do you have your own emergency fund ?

Be careful what you disclose here on the forum, if there's a possibility that he will read it and it will set off an abusive response, please!

Although he has psychiatric/psychological issues, that is no excuse to abuse you emotionally, verbally, financially, or physically. Manipulative behaviour can be quite involved with the dynamic of mental illness, and it is a common thing for the carer to become an 'enabler' of this manipulative behaviour - for the sake of peace - or to walk away (such as his family, if they have had enough of his manipulative behaviour and no longer wish for him to be involved in their life - which might be the case if his sisters have told him to go away) - have you sought psychological support/counselling for yourself to help understand his own mental health issues and how you can help him without encouraging his cycle of behaviour, whatever it is ?

http://marriage.about.com/cs/domesti...ingabusive.htm

I'd have a long think about it....
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Old 03.12.2012, 07:49
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Re: Caring for my spouse is taking a toll.

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I think you are a bit brainwashed at the moment. As the other posters said, you need to be a bit tough with your partner. Leaving him alone for a bit wont kill him. He complains? Well too bad. You have a life of your own to live and at the moment its not happening
I know what Gata is saying sounds harsh, but it is so true. You cannot sacrifice yourself and your life for him. His condition will inevitably worsen and at some point he will need to be in a care facility. For your sanity, you must have a little bit of a life outside the home. I am sorry you are in this situation.
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