6 Ways Caregivers can stay intimate with a partner

 

The intimacy of a relationship being challenged by caring requirements for those we love can be sad. And being unsure of outcomes or of the future regarding our or other’s independence can really affect the relationship we have with those we love.

Stress can arise when these situations change your role and how you interact with your spouse or partner. It has been shown by studies that for caregivers in high quality partnership relationships, greater disability in the recipient of care predicted greater feelings of caregiver overload.

The loss of intimacy in a relationship can be very challenging – we all crave closeness, especially during periods of stress. The emotional connection that once sparked our intimacy and sense of romance may suffer as new demands as a caregiver take over. We need to take steps to remain positive when caregiving changes our role with our partner or spouse.

We may start to notice how the extra burdens can affect us. Being overburdened or exhausted, it’s difficult to feel attractive. Or maybe your partner takes medication or has an illness that affects their sexual function?

Illnesses such as dementia may mean you wonder if a partner can’t properly consent to a sexual relationship. And personal contact becomes more about performing chores, and makes us feel emotionally detached—and with little left for hugging, holding hands and sitting together.

As caregivers, we may experience feelings of wishful thinking, or blaming ourselves when put in the role of increased caring. But while we could let our role as caregiver affect our relationship, there are good ways for couples to maintain close connections and physical intimacy.

As well as considering coping strategies when dealing with the challenges of caring, we can go further and remain in touch with the feelings and emotions that encourage relationships to remain warm and strong.

And taking time for intimacy can be an invaluable source of comfort for both partners when they’re facing a health crisis or managing a chronic illness. Physical intimacy is a way for a couple to affirm their feelings, strengthen their bond, and enjoy the time they have together.

Here are a few ways you can ways you can maintain or increase your closeness and intimacy:

 

  1. Talk openly with your spouse/partner. You may naturally want to avoid awkward or difficult subjects, but try to keep the openness going regarding you needs and desires.Be honest with your partner about needs and desires, and how caregiving can affect both. This kind of sharing can preserve intimacy.
  2. Understand that you can call on the patience and open communication you have used throughout your relationship. And remember to manage your expectations – if your partner wasn’t into sex before the new situation then perhaps that may still be the same.
  3. Talk with a specialist healthcare worker – such as a psychologist or social worker.If you want to work through your feelings without fearing judgment or are not sure how to broach the subject of sex or intimacy with your loved one, this can be especially helpful. Caregiver support groups can also be a good place to feel less alone. You’re fairly likely to find plenty of others who share your concerns.
  4. Maybe an old-fashioned date is a good way to rekindle the flame of passion? Seeing a show or going to a restaurant can get the memories going of past dates, maybe, and set the mood for some romance and intimacy.
  5. Using Home Care packages or respite is a good way to relieve the pressure from your own caregiving and allow some of the stress of caring to be lifted. Use the time to pursue some uplifting pursuits that feel like you’ve had a break from the responsibility for a while.
  6. Or use the time of respite to do something for the one you love, shop for new clothes or a book, or head to the library for some books or magazines they might enjoy. Many libraries stock a large range of DVD films these days to borrow. What better way to rekindle the fire of love than to watch a good-ole romantic comedy or musical?

 

It’s best to remember that there are many ways for couples to share intimacy and closeness. Intimacy can be much more than just sexual – try some tender gestures, and remember these intimacies will work both ways, making you both feel more involved with each other emotionally.

 

Gestures such as hugging, closeness or holding hands are but one way. Being kind, understanding and sensitive to each other’s needs can be a great way of remembering the fun and good times you have had together.

Your goal is to find what works best for you and your spouse or partner. Don’t feel pressured to maintain intimacy in ways that don’t work for you.

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Flu season vaccination – helpful, not harmful

As we head towards winter again in the southern hemisphere, many of us will be wondering if a flu vaccination is worth the effort and risk.

Flu season vaccination – more help than harm

 

As we head towards winter again in the southern hemisphere, many of us will be wondering if a flu vaccination is worth the effort and risk.

Although a vaccination reduces the chance you’ll catch the flu, there is more to the story. Vaccination, which contains an inactive form of the virus, may prevent you catching the flu, however it doesn’t last too long, and may not provide complete protection.

Influenza virus is easily spread from person to person, by inhalation or by touching contaminated objects and then your nose or mouth.

Generally, most healthy people should consider vaccination, as a little initial discomfort may avoid days of misery and potentially time away from the activities or work they enjoy. You’ll start producing the antibodies that provide protection around two weeks after vaccination, however this can vary from person to person.

As we have seen after recent outbreaks across the world, the concern over influenza is significant, with implications for the well-being of healthy people and for the lives of the vulnerable.

The vaccinations for the 2017 winter flu season help protect against three recognized types of flu strain, and a new variant known as A (H1N1) which is a Swine flu variation.

Prevention

Immunisation protects people against harmful infections before they come into contact with them in the community.

The Australian Department of Health and others suggest that being vaccinated lowers the risk of catching influenza, and helps avoid passing the flu on to those more vulnerable. For these people – children, the sick and the elderly, avoiding the flu can mean the difference between having a chronic illness, and having to be hospitalised with a much worse complication such as pneumonia, for example.

Knowing when to be vaccinated is a significant factor in prevention – avoiding getting vaccinated too early or too late is the key. Too early and you may not be covered at peak flu season, as the benefits of the vaccination will pass, too late and you risk getting the flu while unprotected.

Who should be vaccinated?

Generally, everyone can get the flu vaccination. But according to the Australian Medical Association and the Department of Health, those at serious health risk, or the vulnerable, are encouraged to do so.

Those included in the recommendations are:

  • all people aged 65 years and over
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
  • pregnant women
  • people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza, such as those with cardiac disease, chronic respiratory conditions, other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year, chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, impaired immunity, children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy

When should I vaccinate?

Protection from the flu virus begins after one-two weeks after vaccination. This can vary though from person to person.

Recent evidence suggests protection against influenza may start to decrease from 3 to 4 months following vaccination, so early vaccination needs to be balanced with this.

With the peak flu season in Australia being August to September, it is necessary to time your vaccination to keep your immune response at its optimum. April to June is the acknowledged time for annual flu vaccination here.

 

Some side effects may occur within one to two days following flu vaccination and include soreness, redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, along with drowsiness, tiredness, muscle aches and low grade fever. They are usually mild and go away within a few days, usually without any treatment.

 

Where can I get vaccination?

 

Influenza vaccinations are available from a range of locations including GP offices, vaccination clinics, hospitals and health centres.

If you’re not eligible for a free flu shot, you can still get the flu vaccine with a non-PBS or private prescription which is not subsidised by the Government. So talk with your GP if you’d like to be vaccinated.

 

People with flu should stay home away from crowded public places and should follow the cough/cold etiquette to prevent the transmission of the virus. Frequent handwashing with soap, intake of fluids, and other supportive measures will help.

 

The Australian Department of Health have a website with comprehensive immunization information, available at http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/

For older Australians, you can visit:

http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/older-australians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information regarding vaccination visit http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/seasonal_flu_vaccination.aspx