Caring for a spouse requires extra help

There are overthree millionSpousal Caregivers across the United States, providing care for a husband, wife or partner.

We often are forced to quit or reduce work. We face the roller-coaster of exacerbations, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, home and hospice care. On top of that we often face disastrous financial consequences of being overwhelmed with medical bills. We place our own well being on hold to provide care as best as we can. Spousal caregivers are often de-facto single-parents.

Our greatest loses are intimacy and partnership. Where there were two, a viable couple, there is now one. We are left with one person to maintain the household, to work, to plan and dream. There is now just one person to mow the lawn, to fix the car, to cook the dinner and to attend the PTA meeting. Often instead of a spouse and partner you are relegated to the role of nurse.

It has been estimated that the care we provide just to our spouses reduces the costs to Medicare by over $51 billion a year.

I have tried counseling and medication - but have truly found solace in an organization that connects spousal caregivers in a support network throughout the United States and Canada, with on-line members in many countries around the world The WellSpouse Association - a non-profit support group.

We maintain a website where we share best practices, important events, navigating the health and insurance systems, and mutual support. We have a network of local support groups that meet throughout the country, (with two in Canada as well). We produce a publication for and by the members. At our annual national Conference, and regional respite trips and weekends caregivers get the rest they need to continue in their lives, and make friends for life with their fellow travelers. I cannot emphasize how important this organization is to the wellbeing of caregivers. It is the one place that caregivers can come for advice and support where everyone else understands and offers compassion for a trying lifestyle one that wears us down daily.

WellSpouse wants to reach as many caregivers as possible. The average participant lingers for years in a morass without meaningful support. My goal is to inform as many people as I can of the nurturing available to you at our website. You will find a family of caregivers available for solace, understanding, medical procedures we have experienced and navigation of the health care and insurance systems. The great thing about WellSpouse is that all of us have walked the same path and we know so well the effect on your lives. So I invite all spousal caregivers to visit us you will be very glad you did.

Lawrence Bocchiere III is President of the Well Spouse Association.