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Living Separate Lives "Together"
When advanced care means living apart
from your spouse

by Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 4 of 4)

Facing the Days Ahead

Moving forward can bring a shift in daily life as well as new opportunities. Socializing again is an important step to re-engaging in life and recovering after years of intense caregiving. All three spouses in this story had lost their social connections, yet are now able to rekindle friendships, return to past interests and step back into social groups. 

Nancy has found solace in her quiet times at home through reading, working on puzzles or reminiscing through photo albums. Her social life has improved as she spends time with friends on walks, goes out for lunch, on shopping outings and church. When the evenings get lonely, she seeks out others who are alone, calls a friend or family member, and twice a week she plays piano in a musical group in her apartment building. Her love of music has been revived and has been an essential part of the recovery from her personal loss. 

In between visits to the nursing home, Betty cares for the household, visits friends and attends a Bible study group. She also has a dog that keeps her active on daily walks and helps her face the quiet, empty evenings.

Arnie is slowly adjusting to the change of not having Jean by his side every day. He still deals with feelings of sadness and grief, yet he can see he has gained emotional strength. He visits the care home about an hour a day since any longer produces too much agitation for Jean. He does attend a menís coffee group, has begun fishing again and is taking a short trip with a friend for the first time in many years. Recently, his grandson came to live with him while attending college. This has taken away the sting of loneliness and has given him a renewed sense of purpose.

Key Points 

Give yourself credit for the years of care you provided at home and acknowledge the love that still remains in the relationship

Recognize that living apart will bring a range of emotions, both positive and negative

Reach out for support from others, especially from those who have walked in your shoes

Establish a new relationship with your spouseMake self-care a priority 

Keep positive memories alive through reminiscing, viewing photographs or writing your love story

Re-engage in hobbies, social groups, and invest in friendships or social causes with your additional time

In summary, living life apart from oneís spouse is not desired or easily accepted at first. Studies have shown, however, that while the physical care of their spouse may have ended, most married caregivers remain emotionally connected, loyal and committed. They also uphold their wedding vows and continue to see themselves as an integral part of their spousesí lives despite the changes and distance that have come between them.


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